The Vodacom Bulls ended the Cell C Sharks’ unbeaten Carling Currie Cup run when the two sides met in a clash at a rainy Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday night.
A spirited second half performance by the Tshwane-based side saw them claim a comeback 31-25 victory after trailing 14-18 to the Durbanites at the half-time break and in the process bagged a crucial bonus-point win.
The Cell C Sharks came into the match with an unbeaten streak after four matches and remained one of two unbeaten teams, alongside the Toyota Cheetahs.
The visitors began the match perfectly, scoring the opening try as early as the first minute of the game when centre Murray Koster crossed the try line for the first five-pointer of the evening.
It was in the ninth minute that the home side got the scoreboard ticking and tasted the lead for the first time when winger, Madosh Tambwe, dotted down and veteran flyhalf, Morne Steyn, ensured an additional two points with the conversion.
The visiting side was dealt a double blow in the 16th minute when they were reduced to 13 men following back-to-back yellow cards for No8 Mpilo Gumede and lock, Hyron Andrews.
To make matters worse for them, the Vodacom Bulls were rewarded with a penalty try after Gumede was sent to the sin-bin.
However, the Cell C Sharks finished the first half strongly, coming back with a penalty from Jordan Chait and a converted Marnus Potgieter try to take the score at the break to 14-18 in favour of the visitors.
The Vodacom Bulls accelerated their efforts in the second half and were almost immediately rewarded when scrumhalf, Keagan Johannes, dotted down in the 45th minute.
The home side went on to add a further two tries via loose-forwards Arno Botha and Elrigh Louw, while Steyn converted both. The visitors could only muster a penalty goal through Inny Radebe in the closing 40 minutes.
The win for Gert Smal’s charges ensured that the Vodacom Bulls catapult the Cell C Sharks on the log into the second spot on the log table with the Toyota Cheetahs, who remain the only unbeaten side, at the summit after claiming five consecutive wins.
The Vodacom Bulls will next face the Sigma Lions at Emirates Airline Park in a Jukskei derby next Wednesday night.
Vodacom Bulls (14) 35
TRIES: Madosh Tambwe, Penalty Try, Keagan Johannes, Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw.
CONVERSIONS: Morne Steyn (4), Penalty Try
Cell C Sharks (18) 21
TRIES: Murray Koster, Marnus Potgieter.
CONVERSION: Jordan Chait
PENALTIES: Chait (2), Inny Radebe