The Sharks returned to the top of the Super 14 standings after beating the Wellington Hurricanes 33-17 in Durban on Saturday.
The South African side have a three-point lead over the Chiefs and New South Wales Waratahs with five rounds left. The Hurricanes stay sixth after a third defeat in seven games.
The Sharks scored two quick tries after the break through Luzuko Vulindlu and Francois Steyn to grab the initiative after a slow start had left them trailing by a point at halftime.
Vulindlu’s opportunistic 44th minute score came from a quick lineout that caught their New Zealand opponents napping.
Steyn’s simple touchdown underneath the posts four minutes later was the result of poor fielding of an up-and-under by replacement fullback Tamati Ellison.
Both tries were converted by Rory Kockott, who also kicked three first-half penalties to keep the home side in the game after the visitors had made a strong start.
Flyhalf Piri Weepu opened the Hurricanes’ account in the sixth minute with a penalty before weak Sharks tackling saw flanker Faifili Levave barge over after 15 minutes.
In the second period, the Hurricanes remained scoreless until the 67th minute when Zac Guildford cut the deficit to eight points with a try in the right-hand corner.
Weepu made it 23-17 with his second conversion to suggest a nail-biting finish but the unpredictable Steyn kicked a drop goal shortly after to restore the advantage.
Replacement back Chris Jordaan scored the Sharks’ third try with two minutes remaining to seal the victory.
Meanwhile, the ACT Brumbies scored three tries in nine minutes on Saturday to crush the Free State Cheetahs 40-27 in their Super 14 match.
The Brumbies raced to a 13-3 lead after 30 minutes with flyhalf Christian Lealiifano taking advantage of indecision in the Cheetahs defense to jink his way over for a try from 20m.
Wing Jongikhaya Nokwe replied for the Cheetahs who drew level and would have taken a nine-point lead if flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter had converted three penalties either side of halftime.
But the ruthlessly efficient Brumbies then ran in three quick tries to condemn the South Africans to their eighth straight loss.
Mark Gerrard scored a brilliant individual try, kicking ahead three times and grounding the ball after he had counter-attacked from deep in his own territory.
Three minutes later, George Smith set up Peter Kimlin for a try and poor Cheetahs defending then allowed Josh Holmes to break from a scrum and score from outside the 22.