Morne Steyn kicked six penalties as the Bulls held on to beat an inspired Brumbies team 36-34 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The result moves the Brumbies up from eighth to third and the Bulls move up from fifth to fourth.
The Bulls have now caught up to the Stormers on points and overtaken them on points difference but the Stormers top the South African conference as they have more wins.
The Waratahs meanwhile drop from third to eighth as the Brumbies dislodged them from to top spot in the Australian Super Rugby conference.
The Brumbies outscored the Bulls in Pretoria by an incredible five tries to two which earned them two bonus points - one four for tries and another for losing within seven points.
The Bulls usually finish the stronger team at Loftus due to the altitude but they sat back when they had a twenty point lead and the Brumbies surged in the final quarter.
The visitors scored 21 points in the final ten minutes and could have won the match with a sixth try had winger Henry Speight not lost the ball inches from the ground.
The difference came down to Steyn's boot and some strange decisions by referee Marius Joncker who did the Brumbies no favours including not blowing for a knock and allowing Bulls flanker CJ Stander to score one of the strangest tries for some time at Loftus.
Flyhalf Steyn kicked 26 points, landed seven penalty goals, a drop goal and a conversion to redeem himself after recent below-par kicking performances in recent weeks.
He went into the game with an unusually low success rate of 39 goals from 55 attempts this season, but missed only one long-range penalty and a conversion attempt from the touchline against the Brumbies.
The Brumbies surprised the Bulls with two tries within three minutes early in the first half, but seemed well beaten when the home side led 33-13 late in the second half. But the visitors finished strongly, scoring three more tries in the last 11 minutes.
Bulls led 6-0 within seven minutes through Steyn’s first two penalty goals.
But with virtually their first touch of the ball the Brumbies hit back in the 10th minute when flanker Michael Hooper won the ball at the back of a line-out and it was passed quickly down the line for right wing Henry Speight to score in the corner.
Three minutes later fly-half Christian Lealiifano set up a try for Jesse Mogg, looping around his centres to make the extra man and cutting through the defence before sending out a long pass for the full-back to score.
But the Bulls led 19-13 at half-time with a converted try by left wing Bjorn Basson sandwiching two more penalties by Steyn against a single successful kick by Lealiifano.
After another Steyn penalty and a drop goal by the fly-half, Brumbies suffered what was effectively a killer blow 18 minutes into the second half following an apparent knock-on by Steyn.
Most of the players, including ball carrier CJ Stander, paused but there was no whistle from referee Marius Jonker and the big flank ran 40 metres to score.
Undaunted, the Brumbies produced a storming finish with centre Andrew Smith, replacement scrum-half Ian Prior and replacement hooker Anthony Hegarty scoring tries.
While the Bulls won the match most of the praise will go to the Brumbies as it is not everyday that a team scores five tries and loses.
Final Score Bulls 36 (19) Brumbies 34 (13)
Tries - B Basson, CJ Stander
Pen - M Steyn 6
Con - M Steyn
Drop - M Steyn
Tries - H Speight, J Mogg, A Smith, I Prior, A Hegarty
Pen - C. Lealiifano
Con - C Lealiifano 2
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant Ref 1:Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Ref 2:Stefan Breytenbach
Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (c), Jacques Potgieter, CJ Stander, Juandre Kruger, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouché, Johann Sadie.
1. Ben Alexander,2. Stephen Moore,3. Dan Palmer,4. Scott Fardy,5. Sam Carter,6. Ben Mowen (c),7. Michael Hooper,8. Fotu Auelua,9. Nic White,10. Christian Lealiifano,11. Joe Tomane,12. Pat McCabe,13. Andrew Smith,14. Henry Speight,15. Jesse Mogg
Replacements:16. Anthony Hegarty,17. Ruaidhri Murphy,18. Peter Kimlin ,19. Ita Vaea,20. Ian Prior,21. Robbie Coleman ,22. Tevita Kuridrani