Sharks fullback Riaan Viljoen fluffed a sitter penalty to gift the Bulls the victory that sees them lead Super Rugby going into the final week.
The Bulls won 20-19 after leading 13-8 at halftime, but had Patrick Lambie and Viljoen been more accurate the Bulls would have lost.
Lambie’s misses were always going to be costly in such a tight game and when he limped from the field and Butch James was yellow carded with seven minutes to go the Bulls looked the stronger of the two teams.
However, it was the Sharks who had the chance to seal victory in the last minute and condemn the Bulls to their first defeat in South Africa this season.
Viljoen proved incapable of delivering the knockout blow to the Bulls, but he is not a regular goalkicker and fortunae did not favour him or the Sharks. All the luck belonged to the Bulls.
The Sharks were the better of the two teams but inconsistent goal kicking proved their downfall and the Bulls relied on a moment of brilliance from replacement back Jurgens Visser set up Jano Vermaak’s try that set up Morne Steyn’s match-winning conversion.
The Sharks so nearly spoiled it all for the hosts in Pretoria and led 19-13 with just seven minutes to play.
Then came Vermaak’s try, Steyn’s conversion and ultimately Viljoen’s miss.
Bulls – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Jano Vermaak. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (2).
Sharks – Tries: Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane. Penalties: Lambie (3).