A workmanlike Sharks outfit did enough to sneak past the Blues 23-10 and move into ninth position on the table on Saturday.
A workmanlike Sharks outfit did just enough to sneak past the Blues 23-10 and move into ninth position on the Super 14 standings on Saturday.
It was by no means a classic in Durban but the hosts continued on their late-season revival to end the Aucklanders' hopes of making the play-offs.
Ruan Pienaar was the orchestrator for the Sharks as he claimed a canny try, two penalties and a 78th-minute drop-goal to seal the Blues' fate.
The victory, however unentertaining it came about, was John Plumtree's side's fifth on the bounce as both teams were cagey over avoiding defeat.
But the deadlock was eventually broken on seventeen minutes when Stephen Brett sent over a penalty – Steven Sykes guilty of side entry.
Pienaar then levelled things up with a penalty of his own, before the New Zealanders grabbed to lead courtesy of the game's first try.
Brett was the provider, dodging two tackles to break the line and then sending Saili away to score under the post.
The Blues' number ten easily added the extras, but the gap was instantly cut back by Pienaar, who got the chance after the visitors were caught off-side.
He had another chance to cut further into the lead, but this time sent a 35 metre kick wide, before making amends with the first five-pointer of the game for his side – a strong passage of play on the stroke of half-time eventually carving open the visiting defence.
Pienaar missed the conversion, but the Sharks still went into the break ahead of the first time in the game at 11-10.
The second period started much like the first one did as both sides found scoring opportunities few and far between.
The hosts eventually had their first chance ten minutes in – the Blues penalised for not retreating after an initial penalty – with Andy Goode bagging his first points of the game.
Brett had an opportunity to cancel out the Englishman's effort, but pulled his own shot wide.
With the clock ticking over, the home side had plenty of good field position, which they failed to maximise fully as the error count also mounted.
Substitute scrum-half Rory Kockott did manage to extend the lead further, though, sending over back-to-back penalties – the first of which was from his own half.
Knowing it was too late to score three more tries needed for a bonus-point win, Pienaar added a late drop to seal their fate and move to 25 points, nine off the semi-final places.
Pen: Pienaar 2, Goode, Kockott 2
Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (c).
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Riaan Swanepoel, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau/Charlie Faumuina, 18 Andrew Van der Heijden, 19 Viliami Ma'afu, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Rene Ranger, 22 Paul Williams.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)