A late Wiehahn Herbst try secured the Sharks a hard-fought 25-24 victory over Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
Herbst barged over from close quarters at a ruck in the 75th minute to clinch the match points for the visitors. The result means that the Sharks move to the top of the standings for the time-being ahead of Western Province's clash with the Blue Bulls.
Veteran fly-half Butch James gave the visitors an early lead, from the kicking tee after Marnus Schoeman was penalised for playing the ball on the ground at a ruck.
Griquas suffered a setback in the 12th minute when PJ Vermeulen was forced to leave the field with a suspected broken ankle. This after he stumbled over his own feet in an effort to score in the corner after running onto a pass from Nico Scheepers.
There was little action during the next 15 minutes as Francois Brummer replied with two penalties for the home side but James made the score 6-6 with his second three-pointer shortly afterwards.
The Sharks then committed several errors - especially at the breakdowns - and when they were within goal-kicking range Brummer made them pay.
He kicked two further penalties before Sizo Maseko got the game's opening try, in the 30th minute, after gathering a superb back-handed pass from Keegan Daniel close to Griquas' try-line.
Griquas struck back when Marnus Schoeman burrowed his way over the try-line and although Brummer missed the conversion, the hosts were happy with a 17-11 lead at the break.
James reduced the deficit to three points with another penalty, shortly after the re-start, before Burger Schoeman capitalised on a tighthead at a Sharks scrum on the visitors' try-line.
Schoeman gathered the loose ball at the back of the scrum before bursting through two tackles to score. Brummer added the extras to give Griquas a 10-point lead.
The Sharks tried desperately to strike back but they battled to breach the home side's defence. Fred Zeilinga added another penalty, in the 61st minute, for the visitors, after several Griquas players strayed offside at a ruck.
The hosts were battling to keep the visitors at bay and in the process their discipline let them down. Zeilinga added another three-pointer before Griquas captain Rayno Barnes was sin-binned in the 74th minute for a professional foul which paved the way for Herbst's heroics shorlty afterwards.
Try: M Schoeman, B Schoeman
Pens: Brummer 4
Yellow Card: Barnes ( 75th minute, professional foul)
Tries: Maseko, Herbst
Pens: James 2, Zeilinga 3
Griquas: 15 PJ Vermeulen, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Victor Kruger, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (capt), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Patrick O'Brien, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Gouws Prinsloo.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Sizo Maseko, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Butch James, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Jacques Botes (capt), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Edwin Hewitt, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
Referee: Jaco Peyper