The Sharks finally stopped the Bulls juggernaut with a 32-29 Currie Cup win at Kings Park on Saturday, after Yaw Penxe scored the winning try in the last five minutes.
The winner was set up by a perfectly executed Curwin Bosch, Elton Jantjies-esque, cross kick but Morne Steyn could have levelled the game after the hooter had he not shanked the penalty attempt.
The Durbanites were better prepared for this contest than the previous one in Super Rugby Unlocked, when they lost 41-14 at Loftus.
They neutralised the deadly Bulls maul, even forcing them to try the now-famous Rassie Eramus midfield maul tactic. Still, the Sharks stood firm and stole a few Bulls lineout feeds for good measure.
The home side was also aided by Springbok returns of tighthead Thomas du Toit, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and skipper Lukhanyo Am, who have missed a chunk of game time through injury since the return to play.
Du Toit, though, went down hurt, this time holding his rib as he hobbled off seven minutes into the second half.
Again, it proved a pivotal moment, as it marked the time the Bulls entered another gear and took charge of the game from the gritty hosts.
AS IT HAPPENNED | Sharks vs Bulls
There was initially a goal-kicking contest between the two teams’ flyhalfs Steyn and Bosch, which eventually was broken half an hour into the match.
An excellently disguised inside pass by fullback Manie Libbok on a half-break to Am allowed the No 13 to saunter clean through to the try line.
There was time for a little drama after the first half hooter sounded.
The Sharks were denied what would have been a crucial score before half-time when hooker Daniel Jooste went over the try line from a pile up but was adjudged to have played the ball from the ruck a metre out from the Bulls try line.
It proved a crucial moment because the Bulls scored their first try nine minutes after the restart through flank Marco van Staden, who pounced from similar try line pressure.
The try galvanised the Bulls and their intensity went up a thousand notches, as they took the lead through Steyn’s boot at 19-17, who then extended it to 22-17 shortly after.
Cornal Hendricks scored the Bulls’ second try in the 62nd minute as the visitors threatened to pull away.
But substitute hooker Kerron van Vuuren scored from the back of a lineout drive five minutes later to leave the match hanging on a shoestring in the dying moments.
Then came Bosch’s magical moment, a cross-kick to left wing Yaw Penxe, who gathered the chip and touched down with five minutes left on the clock.
Sharks – 32 (14)
Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Kerron van Vuuren, Yaw Penxe
Conversion: Curwin Bosch
Penalties: Curwin Bosch (5)
Bulls – 29 (9)
Tries: Marco van Staden, Cornal Hendricks
Conversions: Morne Steyn (2)
Penalties: Morne Steyn (5)
15 Manie Libbok, 14 S'bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Ox Nche.
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Jeremy Ward
15 David Kriel, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stravino Jacobs