The Bulls moved up to third place in the South African conference with a 40-10 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The win takes the Bulls to one point behind second-placed Sharks, who have played a game more.
Warrick Gelant scored a hat-trick the last time the sides met and continued to be the Sharks’ tormentor this time around, grabbing his second hat-trick in as many games against the men from Durban in a man-of-the-match display. The Sharks must be sick of the sight of the Springbok full-back.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have now stretched their unbeaten run over the Sharks to six matches.
Robert du Preez gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead with two minutes gone after Bulls lock Lood de Jager was penalised for not rolling away.
After the Bulls had taken possession through numerous phases and won a penalty advantage, fly-half Handre Pollard put a clever little chip over the top with Warrick Gelant getting to the ball ahead of Sbu Nkosi to dot down for the game’s first try. Pollard converted to give the visitors a 7-3 lead after six minutes.
Soon after, the Bulls had their second via the same scorer and in similar fashion but this time Gelant gathered his own kick through to dot down for an early brace and a 14-3 lead after Pollard had added the extras.
Having scored a hat-trick of tries from rolling mauls two weeks ago against the Stormers at Loftus on the occasion of becoming the most-capped South African Super Rugby player of all time, Adriaan Strauss scored in identical fashion, this time in his 150th Super Rugby match.
The Sharks began to enjoy some possession towards the end of the first half and were rewarded when Andre Esterhuizen crashed his way past three Bulls defenders from close range with the help of Lukhanyo Am and Phillip van der Walt pushing him over the line. Du Preez added the extras as the Bulls took a 21-10 lead in to the interval.
The Bulls began the second as they had started the first; well in control. They were awarded a penalty try in the 45th minute when referee Egon Seconds lost his patience after the Sharks illegally disrupted another driving maul. To make matters worse, prop Thomas du Toit received a yellow card for the offence as the hosts went down to 14 men with the rain continuing to bucket down.
Unfortunately, the inclement conditions in the second stanza made for a stop-start affair with handling errors aplenty. As a result no further tries were scored until the 75th minute when Gelant grabbed his second hat-trick in as many games against the Sharks. It came in identical fashion to his second, as he successfully outsprinted the Sharks defence to chase down his own expertly weighted grubber kick.
And the Bulls put the cherry on the top when Libbok’s cross-field kick found Jonny Kotze who had all the space and time in the world to saunter over in the left-hand corner to close out a convincing 40-10 victory.
Con: Du Preez
Pen: Du Preez
Tries: Gelant 3, Strauss, Penalty Try, Kotze
Cons: Pollard 3, Libbok
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kötze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG 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 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Duncan Matthews
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)