DURBAN (Reuters) - Fullback Warrick Gelant scored a hat-trick of tries as the Bulls turned in their best performance of a dismal Super Rugby season in a 30-17 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park on Friday.
The match was essentially a dead rubber with the Sharks having already qualified for the quarter-finals and the Bulls out of contention for the knock-out stages, and it was the visitors who were the more impressive.
Bulls number eight Nick de Jager also scored a try to go with 10 points from the boot of flyhalf Tiaan Schoeman, an early replacement for the injured Tony Jantjies, younger brother of Springbok number 10 Elton.
The Sharks grabbed tries through prop Thomas du Toit and fullback Curwin Bosch, with the latter also adding two conversions and a penalty.
Apart from the clinical finishing of Gelant, the Bulls were boosted by the form of their returning Springboks, especially the centre pairing of Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.
They were ahead inside eight minutes when De Jager scored the easiest of tries as a Sharks lineout throw from Franco Marais eluded everybody and was poached by the loose forward, who simply had to fall over the line to score.
The home side hit back when Du Toit powered over for their first try, but it proved a temporary reprieve as the Bulls dominated the remainder of the half.
Sharks flyhalf Garth April knocked on to allow a turnover that saw Gelant canter over, before the latter combined superbly with Serfontein to score his second try and give the Bulls a 17-10 halftime lead.
After Schoeman had added a penalty, the Sharks found a lifeline when Bosch profited from strong work by Du Toit to score a try and reduce the deficit to just three points.
But the Serfontein-Gelant combination worked again two minutes later to hand the full-back his hat-trick and seal victory for the visitors as they plan ahead for the next Super Rugby season under New Zealand coach John Mitchell.
Reporting By Nick Said; editing by John Stonestreet