Loaded with several Vodacom United Rugby Championship stars, the defending champions were accurate from the outset, playing with enterprise and at a pace that earned them the four-try bonus-point after just 29 minutes and a commanding 36-5 half-time lead.
Ten minutes into the second half, yellow cards to Lizo Gqoboka and Madosh Tambwe in quick succession breathed new life into the contest with Windhoek Draught Griquas closing the deficit to 41-24 in the 10-minute period they had a two-man advantage through a penalty try and touchdowns by Munier Hartzenberg and Hanru Sirgel.
Despite a try from Harold Vorster, momentum stayed with the never-say-die visitors, who scored two more tries to reduce the gap to 10 before they conceded a yellow card of their own at the end of a breathless battle that saw the Vodacom Bulls finish the round where they started it - at the top of the table.
The Vodacom Bulls got off to a fast start through Stravino Jacobs, whose fancy feet saw him beat two defenders to score in fine style in the right-hand corner three minutes into the match. Chris Smith couldn’t add the extras - his only miss of the half - but it was an early signal of intent by the home team.
Sango Xamlashe was a picture of determination as he pumped his legs in contact and willed his way over with the help of a couple of teammates to hit right back for the visitors. The outside centre was pinged at the subsequent restart and Smith split the uprights to regain the lead, which quickly stretched to 10 when Cyle Brink dotted down despite some desperate defence by Windhoek Draught Griquas.
Brink was seemingly over for his second moments later but was ruled to have been held by referee Morne Ferreira. Instead, it was Jacobs who bagged his second after being freed up by the Springbok duo of Cornal Hendricks and captain Arno Botha.
Constantly shifting the point of attack, the Vodacom Bulls then kept it tight and Robert Hunt rumbled over, however, the tighthead was unable to ground the ball amidst the sea of bodies.
It was but a momentary respite for the visitors as a very industrious Reinhardt Ludwig scored the bonus-point try before a bit of brilliance from Tambwe led to Champion of the Match Canan Moodie adding a fifth to make 36-5 at half-time.
It was more of the same at the start of the second half as Jan-Hendrik Wessels was mauled over before the Vodacom Bulls’ double blow. Gqoboka was the first to be yellow-carded for collapsing the maul, which cost his team a penalty try as well, with Tambwe joining him in the sin bin for a deliberate knockdown.
Hartzenberg was quick to pounce, followed by hard-working flanker Sirgel, who scored a brace, with replacement Chris Hollis also going over and Zander du Plessis adding three conversions. A final twist saw the gutsy visitors finish the match with 14 men as Luther Obi saw yellow for a dangerous tackle on Tambwe.
Vodacom Bulls 48 (36) – Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Cyle Brink, Reinhardt Ludwig, Canan Moodie, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Harold Vorster. Conversions: Chris Smith (5). Penalty goal: Smith.
Windhoek Draught Griquas 38 (5) – Tries: Sango Xamlashe, Penalty try, Munier Hartzenberg, Hanru Sirgel (2), Chris Hollis. Conversions: Zander du Plessis (3).