Greater discipline ultimately made the difference in the Bulls' 18-13 Super Rugby victory over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, said the Pretoria-based side's coach Frans Ludeke.
Ludeke felt the four points they took from the victory was crucial despite the plethora of handling errors his side made in the first half.
"We saw that penalties gave us the edge in the second half and our discipline was definitely better and that is the reason why we won the match," he said after the match.
The Bulls did well to dictate play in the second half with their flyhalf Morné Steyn being the talisman in their victory, scoring all of their points with five penalty conversions and a drop-goal.
"We would have taken this win any day," Ludeke said.
"The Sharks are a very good side and to play them at home in the first round - it was a must win.
"Credit to Pierre [Spies] and the players, they really had to play for 80 minutes to secure the victory for us."
Spies said his troops' handling errors were due to a combination of eagerness and dew on the ball which made it difficult to grab.
"In one way, it was quite frustrating but also it was a positive for us to see that we could get the momentum and get into their half," Spies said.
"After the first half, we regrouped and picked up our focus and got some points in the second half."
The Bulls skipper said there was a lot of excitement around the match with Loftus Versfeld nearly packed to the rafters in the opening match of the season.
"I felt like I was playing in the first match of my life and, obviously with the great excitement around the game, it was good for us to start with a win - it was very important," he said.
"Our campaign is on the way and we are glad that we got the four points."
The officiating at the scrums was once again cause for concern after SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby body) instructed referees to reduce the number of restarts at scrum time.
While it seemed there were fewer restarts in the match, both teams were heavily penalised in this facet of the game.
"It is still a debatable part of the game as we don't know which way a penalty will go," said Spies.
"Just as long as there is consistency from the referee, and I believe there was some tonight."
Sharks coach John Plumtree said his charges' lack of discipline was deplorable in their lacklustre performance.
"I was proud of the way the boys came back in the end, but you know you can't win a game with that many mistakes," said Plumtree.
"The line-out couldn't function, we made silly errors in our own half and we couldn't dominate the gain line."
Plumtree said his team still had a lot to work on and, even though it was a disappointing performance, it was still early days in the competition.
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