The Sharks turned in a dominant second-half performance to edge out the Cheetahs 23-18 in their Super rugby match on Saturday.
The Sharks, trailing 11-6 at halftime, scored 17 unanswered points in the second period before the host Cheetahs notched a consolation try through wing Riaan Viljoen in the last minute.
The visitors ended the match with just 13 players on the field after scrumhalf Charl McLeod and flanker Keegan Daniel were yellow-carded for professional fouls.
“There were some harsh words at halftime and in the second half we really upped our intensity,” Sharks skipper John Smit said in a televised interview. “We stepped up our defense and managed to win some good turnovers.”
The win moved the Sharks from seventh to fifth in the table and into a playoff position with two matches to play.
It took the visitors just four minutes after the restart to begin their comeback thanks to a penalty from flyhalf Patrick Lambie.
Five minutes later, they went ahead with a fine try by wing Lwazi Mvovo who ran all the way from his own 22m line.
The Sharks effectively wrapped the match up with 12 minutes left when right wing JP Pietersen dived over for a converted try.
Earlier, the Sharks opened the scoring in the 12th minute through a Lambie penalty.
The Cheetahs responded when Viljoen set off on a mazy run that split the defense before scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius sprinted 30m for a try.
Sias Ebersohn missed the conversion, but he made amends in the 17th minute with a successful 53m penalty attempt.
Ebersohn and Lambie then traded penalties before the teams went to the break.
“We gave away too many turnovers in the second half and their pace out wide was too much,” Cheetahs skipper Corne Uys said.