The Bulls outscored the Cheetahs by three tries to two on Saturday to win their Super 14 match 24-20.
Cheetahs center Meyer Bosman kicked two penalty goals at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium before the Bulls tight five began to take a grip on play.
The Bulls hammered away at the Cheetahs' line after they had repelled raids early in the second quarter, and their persistence was finally rewarded when Bulls and Springbok frontrower Wessel Roux drove over from a ruck.
His try was converted by Morne Steyn and the Bulls led 7-6 at halftime.
The second half saw the Bulls maintain their dominance up front and gradually forcing the Cheetahs to make desperate attempts to break the stranglehold.
The Bulls dominated possession and Springbok wing Bryan Habana darted over for a try from close in -- and then left the field with what appeared to be a serious injury to his left ankle.
Steyn kicked a penalty goal three minutes later and the Bulls seemed to be cruising.
But the Cheetahs' Springbok prop forward C.J. van der Linde outstripped the cover defenses from 50 yards out with an exhilarating run down the right to score a try which was converted by Bosman.
The Bulls settled matters with a well-taken try by replacement forward Jaco Engels and it was converted by Steyn to put the Bulls in front by 11.
The Cheetahs were not done, however, and Eddie Fredericks finished off a sweeping backline move for a converted try with just three minutes of play left.
Lions get first win
Wylie Human scored a first-half try on Saturday to help the Lions beat the Highlanders 11-6.
Human gathered a speculative chip from Highlander winger Greg Zampach and broke free at Ellis Park to score unchallenged in the 28th minute when the scores were level at 3-3.
Lions flyhalf Louis Strydom opened the scoring with a penalty goal, to which Highlander flyhalf Callum Bruce replied.