The Sharks charged into the Super Rugby semi-finals with an impressive 30-17 victory over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
The elimination of the Australian conference winners means the Sharks will face South African rivals the Stormers at Newlands in the semi-finals next Saturday, while the Crusaders will travel to Hamilton for an all-Kiwi clash with the Chiefs.
There was plenty of talk about teams carrying momentum in the build-up to the qualifying finals, and the Sharks showed they will be very a tough act to beat next weekend following this sterling performance.
The Durban side were scintillating on attack in the first period and backed it up with brave, well-organised defence after the break.
The Sharks led 20-10 at half-time thanks to tries from JP Pietersen and Paul Jordaan plus a Fred Michalak drop goal, while the Reds replied just before the break via a touchdown from Will Genia.
An intercept try from Charl McLeod early in the second period gave the visitors a healthy gap, forcing the Reds to chase the game. Radike Samo's 80th-minute score proved to be too little too late for the defending champions.
The Sharks dominated the opening exchanges and were 10-0 up after 13 minutes. Michalak opened the scoring from the kicking tee before Bismarck du Plessis showed fantastic hands to put Pietersen clear out wide for the first try.
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds as fly-half Ben Lucas was forced off injured and coach Ewen McKenzie made a big call by bringing replacement scrum-half Nick Frisby on, leaving Mike Harris in midfield and handing the pivot role to Genia.
The nightmare start continued for the hosts when Paul Jordaan showed a neat step, after a great offload from Keegan Daniel, and raced home for the Sharks' second try.
Harris stepped up to find his target with a long-range penalty, but Michalak replied with a sucker punch to put the Sharks 20-3 ahead by landing a drop goal from bang in front.
With half-time looming, Scott Higginbotham broke down the left touchline and found Genia on his inside for a try that dragged the hosts back into contention.
The Sharks were first to strike in the second half, however, when McLeod intercepted Genia's pass to bolt 60m and score under the sticks. Michalak's third conversion left the visitors leading 27-10.
Both teams then came within inches of scoring but the Reds were denied by the TMO for inconclusive evidence before Meyer Bosman stumbled with the tryline begging.
The Reds pitched camp in the Sharks' 22 for 10 minutes but couldn't find a gap in the wall of black jerseys, although Digby Ioane came awfully close.
Samo finally crashed over in the final minute, but any hopes of the Reds defending their title had already evaporated.
Man of the match: A mention for JP Pietersen, who scored the first try and was immense on defence, but we'll go for Bismarck du Plessis who continues to astound not only with his strength but with some awesome ball skills.
Moment of the match: The Reds were still in it until McLeod's intercept try moved the Sharks two converted tries clear. Genia threw the offending pass. Should he have even been playing at fly-half?
Villain of the match: No nasty stuff to report.
For the Reds:
Cons: Harris, Genia
For the Sharks:
Tries: Pietersen, Jordaan, McLeod
Cons: Michalak 3
Pens: Michalak 2
Yellow cards: Sykes (Sharks)
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Tapuai.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)