An early second-half blitz helped the Bulls return to winning ways with a 43-27 win over the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
After finding themselves 20-3 down with five minutes to go in the first half, the hosts turned things around with four tries in 12 minutes - one before the break and three after half-time - to keep their slim hopes of making it into the play-offs alive.
The Bulls, who headed into the game on the back of three consecutive losses on their gruelling tour to the Antipodes, were sloppy in the opening quarter and the Chiefs took full advantage of it.
The defending champs dominated possession early on but failed to make much of it count with a Morne Steyn drop-goal the only points they had to show for their efforts.
The Chiefs on the other hand were thriving on Bulls' knock-ons, poor throws in the line-out and scored two tries against the run of play.
First full-back Mils Muliaina crossed over after a dummy and hand-off outfoxed the Bulls' defence in their own 22, and then scrum-half Brendon Leonard brushed off several attempted tackles for an easy run in. Fly-half Stephen Donald converted both to take his team to a 20-3 lead.
The Bulls finally woke up in the 35th minute and found some much-needed rhythm. Center Wynand Olivier scored their first try after some aggressive build-up from the forwards and Steyn added the conversion as well as a penalty to put them in sight at half-time.
Olivier, replacement wing Gerhard van den Heever and number eight Pierre Steyn all crossed the tryline inside the first eight minutes of the second half to put the Bulls in a commanding position.
Olivier, with his midfield partner Stephen Dippenaar at the heart of the move, and Van den Heever's tries were courtesy of good work from the backs while forwards and backs combined for Spies' effort.
Steyn increased the Bulls' lead to 43-20 with a couple of penalties, but the wind wasn't completely knocked out of the Chiefs' sails and number eight Fritz Lee gave the visitors a glimmer of hope with a 40m solo dash for their third try.
The Bulls though made sure there were no further hiccups to claim five points and deny the visitors a losing bonus point.
Tries: Olivier 2, Van den Heever, Spies
Cons: Steyn 4
Pens: Steyn 4
Drop goal: Steyn
Tries: Muliaina, Lee
Cons: Donald 3
Pens: Donald 2
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (capt), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Francois Brummer, 21 Gerhard van den Heever, 22 Derick Kuun.
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Save Tokula, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 Jackson Willison.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)