The Vodacom Blue Bulls moved above Western Province in the standings after claiming a hard-fought 48-27 victory over the EP Kings in Pretoria on Friday.
Despite winning by a 21-point margin, the home side didn't always have things going their way but a strong second half showing paved the way to victory.
The home side outscored the Kings by seven tries to three with captain Lappies Labuschagne leading the way with a brace of five-pointers.
The Kings were competitive throughout and held a 20-17 lead at half-time thanks to well-taken tries from their captain Tim Whitehead and Elgar Watts.
Acccurate goal-kicking from Scott van Breda also helped set up the lead but the home side were kept in the game thanks to Labuschagne's first try and a five-pointer by Arno Botha.
The Bulls' expansive game plan paid dividends as they increased the intensity levels. This seemed to catch the Kings by surprise and the Port Elizabeth-based outfit faltered badly in the second half.
A yellow card to Edgar Marutlulle didn't help the visitors' cause and the Bulls made full use of their numerical advantage. Tries from Dries Swanepoel and Francois Hougaard gave them a handy 29-20 lead and they went further ahead when Werner Kruger barged over from close quarters in the 67th minute.
Ruan Steenkamp added another try five minutes later but although the Kings were well-beaten by then, they didn't surrender.
Their efforts were rewarded when JP du Plessis crossed for their third try in the 75th minute but the Bulls sealed victory shortly before the final whistle when Jacques du Plessis crossed for their seventh try.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Labuschagne 2, Swanepoel, Hougaard, Kruger, Steenkamp, Du Plessis
Cons: Schoeman 4, Fouché
Yellow card: Steenkamp
For EP Kings:
Tries: Whitehead, Watts, Du Plessis
Cons: Van Breda 3
Pens: Van Breda 2
Yellow cards: Marutlulle, S Ferreira