The Sharks went into the match knowing that a win with a try-scoring bonus point was necessary to sneak into the play-offs and they achieved one part of that, scoring four tries, but missed out on the win by a point.†
The Bulls on the other hand will be able to enjoy home ground advantage for the semi-final, and if they win that, will be able to enjoy their first-ever final at Loftus Versfeld.†
In front of a big and boisterous crowd, the match started at an unbelievable intensity and the excitement and adrenaline among the players must have been at an all-time high.†
However, it was the Bulls who struck first with a well-worked try to fullback Zane Kirchner, who went over in the corner in the 16th minute.†
Flyhalf Morne Steyn then converted to make it 7-0. From then on though it really was all the Sharks as they launched attack after attack, aided and abetted by two yellow cards being dished out to the Bulls' JP Nel and Deon Stegmann.†
Eventually they capitalised on their ascendancy with flanker Keegan Daniel going over for their first try after the Sharks had driven close to the tryline from a lineout.†
The Bulls hit back with a drop-goal through the boot of Steyn soon after though, with the half-time hooter having already sounded, taking the visitors into a 10-5 half-time lead.†
The Sharks then started the second half in perfect fashion as winger Odwa Ndungane was put over in the corner, scrumhalf Rory Kockott slotted a good conversion and the Sharks led for the fist time in the match.
Then in the 48th minute the Sharks produced their best moment of the competition went they produced a magnificent flowing movement that saw lock Steven Sykes barge over for yet another try and suddenly the moment was well and truly with the hosts.†
However, the Bulls suddenly awoke from their slumber and put a multi-phased move together which culminated with a try to winger Akona Ndungane, converted by Steyn to make it a two point ball game.†
Steyn then came to the party once again with his second drop-goal in the 62 nd minute, edging the Bulls into the lead.†
Then in the 74th minute, after a build-up that seemed to last for an age, replacement Danie Rossouw squeezed over for the Bulls' third try and when Steyn converted, the visitor's had an eight point cushion.†
Right at the end, and in terribly heart-breaking fashion, Sharks No 8 Ryan Kankowski scored the bonus-point try, Kocott raced back to the mark and snapped over a drop-goal conversion, but the full-time hooter sounded and it was all too late as referee Craig Joubert blew full-time. †
Final Score Sharks†26 Bulls†27
Tries - Daniel,Ndungane,Sykes, Kankowski
Con - Rory Kockott 2
Tries - Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane,Danie Rossouw
Con - Morne Steyn 2
Drop - Morne Steyn 2
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Phillip Bosch (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Wayne Erickson (Australia)
Sharks :† Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Adi Jacobs, Riaan Swanepoel, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Johann Muller (capt.), Steven Sykes, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: Jannie du Plessis, Deon Carstens, Albert van den Berg, Jacques Botes, Charl McLeod, Monty Dumond, Andries Strauss.
Bulls : Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morne; Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (capt.), Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Derick KuŁn, GurthrŲ Steenkamp.
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Rayno Gerber, Danie Rossouw, Pedrie Wannenburg, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, Jaco Pretorius.