Steyn joined Canterbury Crusaders star Dan Carter (1,272 points) and Australian Stirling Mortlock (1,031) as he became the first South African to reach 1000 points. He has now scored 1012 points in 91 games, all for the Bulls.
The Bulls played with 14 men from the 64th minute after Francois Hougaard, who had moved from scrumhalf to wing, was harshly red-carded by referee Craig Joubert for a tip-tackle, and finished the match with 13 men as flank Jacques Potgieter was yellow-carded for a shoulder-charge in the 78th minute.
But it was the Cheetahs who ended the match in a distraught state as, try as they might, they could not get through a fierce Bulls defensive line, led by their highly-physical but mobile tight five.
Props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger, both capped for the Springboks last year, scored the first two Bulls tries from close range, the visitors’ potency on attack being largely due to their ability to secure quick ruck ball.
Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen again kicked immaculately, succeeding with three penalties to keep the home side in touch heading towards half-time at 9-17 down.
But tremendously aggressive defence by the Bulls led to turnover ball, which Hougaard kicked deep into Cheetahs territory. Wing Akona Ndungane then managed to win possession, before the ball was spread wide for the other wing, Bjorn Basson, to beat a prop on the outside for another try.
The Bulls then scored on the half-time hooter to open up a commanding 31-12 lead. Centre Wynand Olivier’s lovely step inside created space on the outside for Ndungane, who burst clear before passing inside for fullback Zane Kirchner to score.
The Cheetahs dominated in the opening minutes of the second half, but incredible defence saw the Bulls resist 16 phases close to their own line, before Steyn landed his second and third penalties to stretch the lead to 37-12 after 58 minutes.
“We’re very disappointed, but credit to the Bulls, tactically they were better than us and credit to their defence. We were on their line for a while, but we couldn’t get through,” Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said.
Hougaard was then red-carded, despite centre Robert Ebersohn twisting around in the tackle and deliberately going to ground head-first, and concerted pressure inside Bulls territory eventually saw hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss cross for the Cheetahs’ only try.
But the inspired Bulls remained in control and scored two more tries in the last 10 minutes, replacement centre JJ Engelbrecht pouncing on an intercept inside the Cheetahs 22 and Kirchner scoring a fine individual try.
“It’s easy to play well when 15 players are so willing to work hard for each other,” outstanding Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle said, before adding “Morne Steyn is a special athlete, well done to him.”