The Bulls have narrowed the gap at the top of Super Rugby's Africa 1 conference with a come-from-behind 20-14 win over the Cheetahs in Pretoria.

After the Crusaders had done them a favour by thrashing the Stormers in Christchurch, the three-time champion Bulls looked like ending up on the wrong end of the ledger themselves after going into the break eight points down.

The Cheetahs opened the scoring through Paul Schoeman in just the fifth minute and led 11-3 at halftime but Jacques Potgieter hit back for the home side and a well-crafted counter-attack saw Jesse Kriel score the winning try with seven minutes remaining.

The result cut the Stormers' conference lead over the second-placed Bulls to 12 points, while the Cheetahs sit four points back in third.

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