The Sharks secured themselves a home semifinal berth in the Currie Cup when they came back from behind to beat the Blue Bulls 26-18 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
With only one home semifinal berth up for grabs before this encounter and both teams vying for it, the Sharks almost let it slip in the first half when they found themselves trailing 18-9 and with only 14 men on the park after lock Johan Ackermann was sent off.
The Bulls had managed to score two tries, from winger John Mametsa in the fourth minute and another from substitute Neil Powell in the 38th minute.
Ackermann was sent off by referee Willie Roos in the 23rd minute for throwing a punch during a scuffle.
There was more drama and despair for the Sharks in the first half as lock Steven Sykes lost the ball while stretching out to score in the 30th minute.
However, matters changed in the second half as the Sharks came out firing and their efforts were rewarded with a try in the 47th minute when centre Waylon Murray crashed over and, after a short referral to the TMO, the Sharks were awarded the try.
It was in the 54th minute that the Sharks eventually seized full control of the game with Rory Kockott slotting over a penalty to give the visitors a narrow 19-18 lead.
On the hour mark, the Sharks put the contest beyond dispute when Odwa Ndungane’s outstretched hand managed to dot the ball down for the Sharks’ second try of the half, giving them 26-18 and eventually the match.
The Blue Bulls remain in third spot and will be fighting for their lives to stay third on the log. They will fancy their chances of making the final with a semifinal against the Sharks in Durban instead of facing log leaders the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. — Sapa