Full-time: Chiefs 28-22 Bulls
An outstanding second-half defensive effort sealed the match for the Chiefs in the face of the Bulls unrelenting physical play.
The Bulls had success throughout the match using their stampeding driving maul to great effect however they lost their accuracy after wholesale changes were made to their line-up in the second period.
The Chiefs looked to be staring down the barrel but never panicked and showed great composure to strike the fatal blow with Sam Cane's 68th minute try.
From then on the Chiefs lifted their intensity and defended their line with vigor, counter-rucking to secure possession and clear off their own line.
The Bulls were still in it up until the final whistle but uncharacteristic errors and a lack of composure at crucial times was their undoing.
The Bulls now return home to face the Stormers next week, while
the Chiefs look to a battle with the Blues at Albany next
73mins Chiefs 28-22 Bulls
Chiefs substitutions - fullback Andrew Horrell departs with Robbie Robinson taking his place, while crowd favourite Sona Taumalolo is on for Toby Smith.
68mins Chiefs 28-22 Bulls
Try! Sam Cane scores for the Chiefs after good build-up from Sonny Bill Williams. Cruden fed SBW on the cut and Cane was perfectly positioned to take the pass on the inside and score under the posts. Cruden bangs it over from in front to give the Chiefs a six-point lead with ten to go...
61mins Chiefs 21-22 Bulls
Bulls penalty - Steyn edges the Bulls ahead once again after Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick entered a ruck from the wrong side.
59mins Chiefs 21-19 Bulls
Try! The Chiefs get the one they needed from a great scrum move. Cruden took the ball wide after both midfielders ran decoys on the inside before he fed Lelia Masaga to take a clear passage to the line. Cruden converts to give the Chiefs the narrow lead going into the last quarter of the match.
57mins Chiefs 14-19 Bulls
Chiefs substitutions - prop Mahonri Schwalger comes on for Toby Smith and opensider Sam Cane for Tanerau Latimer.
53mins Chiefs 14-19 Bulls
Chiefs penalty - Cruden kicks a 43 metre shot after the Bulls gave away a penalty at scrum time, taking it back to a five-point ball game.
49mins Chiefs 11-19 Bulls
Bulls penalty - Steyn bangs another one over after relentless forward drives from the Bulls pack saw the Chiefs eventually pinged for a ruck infringement.
45mins Chiefs 11-16 Bulls
Chiefs penalty - Cruden slots his second penalty of the night after the Bulls were found offside as they tried to defend their line.
41mins Chiefs 8-16 Bulls
Morne Steyn kicks-off the second-half for the Bulls.
Halftime: Chiefs 8-16 Bulls
The first half has shaped up as the nail-biting contest that everyone was expecting with the Bulls taking a well-deserved lead after some enthusiastic play.
The Chiefs have been caught out by the Bulls energetic running and trademark rugged defence as the visitors managed to out-enthuse the hosts.
The Chiefs try to Andrew Horrell came against the run of play and was opportunistic but it wasn't long before the Bulls got themselves back into the match.
As always, Morne Steyn has been dangerous with the boot, and the Bulls forwards have relished the uncertainty of the Chiefs pack who too often tried to take them on up-front.
The Bulls are a side who will strangle points out of the opposition and with a notable halftime lead look for their forwards to try and close the game out on the back of Steyn's accurate boot - both for goal and in general play.
The Chiefs need to find more energy and try to outwit the Bulls instead of being drawn into the grinding style that the visitors love.
Stand by for what should be a thrilling second-half!
39mins Chiefs 8-16 Bulls
Try! The Bulls get over in the left corner after winger Bjorn Basson beat Lelia Masaga one-on-one to dive in to score. Steyn converts from the sideline to give his side a handy lead at halftime.
35mins Chiefs 8-9 Bulls
Bulls penalty - Steyn adds another three-points from 41 meteres out after the Chiefs were caught for not retreating after a clearing kick.
25mins Chiefs 8-6 Bulls
Try! The Chiefs score seemingly from nothing after Cruden put a kick in to the left wing. Bulls winger Akona Ndungane spilt it while looking for support allowing Chiefs fullback Andrew Horrell to toe it ahead to the ingoal for the try. Cruden's conbversion was astray yet the Chiefs have the lead against the run of play.
22mins Chiefs 3-6 Bulls
Bulls dropped goal - Steyn ensures the Bulls come away with points from another foray into Chiefs territory - snapping a dropped goal from 25 metres out.
10mins Chiefs 3-3 Bulls
Chiefs penalty - Aaron Cruden levels the scores with an angled kick after the Bulls were caught offside with the Chiefs pressing hard on their line.
6mins Chiefs 0-3 Bulls
Bulls penalty - Morne Steyn makes no mistake with his first kick of the night from 41 metres out. The Chiefs can not afford to hand Steyn opportunities in their own half or he will punnish them every time.
0mins Chiefs 0-0 Bulls
Chiefs five-eighth Aaron Cruden kicks-off to get things underway on what is a beautiful night in Hamilton!
This replay of the 2009 final promises to be one of the best games of the season with the Chiefs looking to avenge the result from that night and beat the Bulls for the first time in five matches.
The Chiefs are fresh after last round's bye and desperate to further widen the gap between themselves and the Crusaders at the head of the New Zealand conference.
The Bulls sit just shy of the lead of their own national conference and are keen to avoid their second loss in a row after going down to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.
While they look to be certainties for the playoffs this game shapes as being vital to the Bulls chances of securing a home final.
They will will want to improve their discipline after conceding 14 penalties against the Highlanders, mostly for ruck infringements, while their defence also needs tightening up after they missed a whopping 30 tackles.
The Chiefs have an entirely new frontrow from their last match against the Reds, with Ben Afeaki returning to the side, while Jackson Willison fills in at centre for the injured Richard Kahui.
With the likes of Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams, the Chiefs have better potential with the ball in hand, and if they can reproduce some of the creativity from the first half of their match in Brisbane they should be able to get past the Bulls.
Liam Messam will become the most capped Chiefs player of all time passing Sitiveni Sivivatu's total of 89 games while crowd favourite Sona Taumololo has the chance to become the top try scorer in the comp if he can cross for one tonight.
Stand by for kick-off at 7.35pm.
Chiefs: 1. Toby Smith, 2. Hika Elliot, 3. Ben Afeaki, 4.
Craig Clarke (c), 5. Brodie Retallick, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Tanerau
Latimer, 8. Kane Thomson, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Aaron Cruden,
11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Jackson
Willison, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Andrew Horrell.
Replacements: 16. Mahonri Schwalger, 17. Sona Taumalolo, 18. Michael Fitzgerald, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22. Maritino Nemani.
Bulls: 1. Dean Greyling, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 3. Werner
Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 6. Dewald
Potgieter, 7. CJ Stander, 8. Pierre Spies (capt), 9. Francois
Hougaard, 10. Morne Steyn, 11. Bjorn Basson, 12. Wynand Olivier,
13. Johann Sadie, 14. Akona Ndungane, 15. Zane Kirchner.
Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Juandre Kruger, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouche, 22. JJ Engelbrecht.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (SA)