The Vodacom Bulls went into the Durban match with a four-point advantage, but with the knowledge that the KwaZulu-Natalians still had an outside chance to sneak into first place and earn a place alongside Benetton in the Rainbow Cup final.
However, for that to happen, it meant the Cell C Sharks had to win with a try-scoring bonus-point while at the same time ensuring the Vodacom Bulls return to Pretoria empty-handed, which was always going to be a very tough ask.
It was the Vodacom Bulls who enjoyed a 13-10 halftime lead. Both sides managed to score a try apiece, with the visitors edging the host thanks to Morné Steyn's two successful penalty goals.
The Vodacom Bulls effectively sealed the bonus-point win in the 20 minutes after halftime when they outscored the home side by three tries to one to open up a 34-15 gap. And although the home side managed to score again, it was it was the men in light blue who marched on to their first ever Rainbow Cup final.
Vodacom Bulls No 8 Marcell Coetzee, who deputised for injured Springbok Duane Vermeulen, was again an influential figure and led from the front of a fairly youthful looking pack of forwards.
The home side got very little reward for their territory and possession especially in the first half, and they would have been disappointed to go in the break 13-10 down.
After the break, Jake White's team piled on the pressure and managed to keep the scoreboard pressure on the home team.
Veteran midfielder Cornal Hendricks was again one of the stalwarts for the winning side and he was awarded with the official Man of the Match accolade, mainly for his excellent long-range try when he outstripped Curwin Bosch to win the race to the try line.
As a result of their deserved bonus-point triumph, the Vodacom Bulls finished on 25 points while the Cell C Sharks completed their campaign on 16 log points.
The DHL Stormers finished on 17 log points, while the Emirates Lions will remain on eight.
Cell C Sharks 22 (10) - Tries: JJ van der Mescht, Siya Kolisi, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Manie Libbok. Penalty goal: Bosch.
Vodacom Bulls 34 (13) - Tries: Cornal Hendricks, David Kriel, Stravino Jacobs, Janko Swanepoel. Conversions: Morné Steyn (4). Penalty goals: Steyn (2).