The Vodacom Bulls stomped their way into the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinals following a dramatic 30-27 victory over rivals, the Cell C Sharks, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was a thrilling, edge-of-the-seat encounter in the South African derby in the Vodacom URC match which was witnessed by over 22 000 spectators at Fortress Loftus on a beautiful Highveld afternoon.
When the 80-minute mark struck, the two teams being level with the score tied at 27-27 following a fiery, yet evenly matched encounter, the game looked set to be heading for extra time.
However, the Vodacom Bulls were determined to finish off on a high note, despite the resurgence of an ambitious Cell C Sharks team.
It was a dramatic Chris Smith drop-goal in the final play of the game three minutes after the 80-minute siren had sounded that got Loftus Versfeld to erupt into a frenzy as the men in blue booked themselves a spot in the Vodacom URC semifinals, where they will travel to Dublin to face the in-form Leinster team.
The Irishmen, in the quarterfinal that followed the Vodacom Bulls versus Cell C Sharks clash, overpowered their Scottish opponents, Glasgow Warriors, in spectacular fashion with a 76-14 win at the RDS Stadium.
In Tshwane, the SA derby showed signs of a looming electrifying clash from the early stages of the match following a fast-paced start.
It was the visitors who were first to get points on the scoreboard when Cell C Sharks flyhalf, Curwin Bosch, slotted over a penalty in the fourth minute.
In the 12th minute Vodacom Bulls winger, Canan Moodie, made a crucial interception before showing the opposition defence a clean pair of heels and skill, together with fellow winger, Madosh Tambwe, who finished off the action with a try to get the home side into the lead.
It did not take long before the visitors responded with a try of their own via hooker, Bongi Mbonambi.
A penalty from Bosch and two from Smith for the Vodacom Bulls saw the teams go into the half-time break tied with the score sitting at 13-13.
The second half continued being an evenly contested affair. The Vodacom Bulls scored two converted tries, with captain Marcell Coetzee and centre Cornal Hendricks being the scorers. The Cell C Sharks also responded via Jaden Hendrikse and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
The siren sounded to signal the conclusion of the 80 minutes with the score tied at 27-27 and the home team seemed to get some wind to their sails as they forged forward towards the Cell C Sharks territory.
After some resilience and cool heads, Smith bravely and calmly took it upon himself to position himself for a pass from Embrose Papier and slot over the match-winning drop-goal which sealed the victory for the Vodacom Bulls and cement their place in the semifinal.
The team will travel to Dublin this week where they will prepare to take on the fiery Leinster outfit.
Vodacom Bulls (13) 30
TRIES: Madosh Tambwe, Marcell Coetzee, Cornal Hendricks.
CONVERSIONS: Chris Smith (3)
PENALTIES: Smith (2)
Cell C Sharks (13) 27
TRIES: Bongi Mbonambi, Jaden Hendrikse, Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
CONVERSIONS: Curwin Bosch (3)
PENALTIES: Bosch (2)
VODACOM MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Walt Steenkamp