The Bulls bludgeoned the Sharks 10-40 in torrential rain at Kings Park in Durban.
Warrick Gelant bagged a second consecutive hat-trick in the Shark Tank after another thrilling attacking display at fullback.
John Mitchell’s men fashioned an impressive victory, putting on a masterclass of wet-weather rugby on South Africa’s east coast, in a game of two halves.
The Pretoria side scored six tries to one, shutting out their opponents after the break.
The game was won in the first-half due to some scintillating finishing by the Bulls.
There was still work to be done, though.
Lood de Jager was a colossus in defence, making 19 tackles, 10 more than second-placed Trevor Nyakane.
Gelant’s tries put the points on the board but it was the work in the tight phases that secured this bonus-point win.
This was a torrid day for the Sharks, returning off the back of a thrashing of the Blues in Auckland and a last-gasp loss in the thriller against the Hurricanes – a damp squib of epic proportions.
Handre Pollard was magnificent; a true general at flyhalf.
He dictated the pace and temp in the dry conditions and switched effortlessly to a percentage-based old-school tactical plan in the Durban deluge.
Stunning start sets up the game for the Bulls.
The Bulls raced into an 18-point 25-minute lead after two tries by the electric Gelant and another from the born-again Adriaan Strauss.
Robert du Preez kicked an early penalty to put his side into an early lead, one they would not keep for long or regain.
Two minutes’ later, Gelant gathered a wonderful chip-kick and dotted down for his first.
He soon made it 3-14 after the Bulls backs and forwards linked superbly in the build-up.
The 22-year-old fullback saw space in behind the Sharks’ lines, grubbered and collected his kick to score.
Mitchell’s men had enjoyed more than 90 percent possession inside the opening half-hour, and they made it count.
The former Springboks skipper, much maligned in the green and gold, but weighed down by a coach out of his depth, has enjoyed a resurrection this season under his Kiwi coach.
He was soon over after a bulldozing driving maul by his fellow forwards, who dismantled their opponents’ set-piece defence.
Andre Esterhuizen scored just before half-time after some sustained pressure to keep the Sharks in the hunt.
Rain sunk stilted Sharks.
The rain bucketed down after the interval, killing the thrilling first-half attacking displays by the sides.
It was the Bulls who played the conditions expertly.
Pollard, by now, was running the game in the guise Pretoria’s favourite son, Naas Botha.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty try seven minutes after the break, extending their lead back to 18.
It was the last points until the final three minutes when Gelant’s treble broke the Sharks spirits.
The No 15 chased his kick and beat the cover defenders to the ball. It is great to see a South African rugby player with kicking skills and finishing skills wrapped in one – he is the future.
Johnny Kotze supplied the coup de grâce when he waltzed in for the three-times champions’ sixth try in the 80th minute.
Final score: Sharks 10 (10) Bulls 40 (21)
Tries – Esterhuizen
Pen – R. du Preez
Con – R. du Preez
Cards – Du Toit (Yellow, 48′)
Tries – Gelant (3), Strauss, Penalty Try, Kotze
Con – Pollard (3), Libbok
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kötze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 André Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Duncan Matthews.