Replacement scrumhalf Augustine Pulu scored a try after the final hooter to cap an 18-12 win for Waikato Chiefs over the Sharks on Saturday.
Pulu’s dart down the blindside in the 81st minute made certain of the Chiefs’ seventh straight win, taking the New Zealand team back to the top of the overall standings.
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden’s 13 points kept the visitors ahead from the moment he crossed for a try in the 19th. He also kicked the conversion and two penalties.
The Sharks closed to within a point at 13-12 with Patrick Lambie’s fourth penalty in the 67th minute, but the Springbok back missed a long-range attempt with 10 minutes to go and the Chiefs closed out victory when Pulu nipped down the short side to dive over unchallenged.
The Sharks were caught out by the break, after expecting the Chiefs to kick the ball out and settle for a one-point win.
Cruden hit the left post with the conversion attempt that would have denied the Sharks a losing bonus point.
The high-flying Chiefs have won every game since slipping to a home defeat to the Highlanders in the first round. The Chiefs return home from Australia and South Africa with three wins from three after beating the Western Force, the Cheetahs and the Sharks.
“It’s very satisfying to have a tour when you win three from three,” Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said. “It doesn’t happen very often. We’re chuffed, but also a bit relieved with the way this game worked out.”