The Sharks' winless streak was extended to five matches on Friday when they went down 32-17 to the Reds in Brisbane.
The Reds enjoyed a stunning opening 40 minutes in which everything went according to plan, with their 26-point lead at the half all but ending the match as a contest.
Having entered the clash low on confidence and form, the Sharks were quickly behind the eight ball as Saia Faingaa crossed in just the fifth minute. Quade Cooper was the architect of the score, with his long skip pass giving the hooker space to step and slice his way through the Sharks defence.
The Sharks error count rose as quickly as the Reds score, with handling errors and poor passing stymieing their charge. It was a turnover - engineered by Ed Quirk - that set the Reds up for what will surely go down as one of the scores of the season.
With the ball spread wide from the ruck, the ball was spread wide to Chris Feauai-Sautia who drew a defender before passing inside to Digby Ioane. The winger in turn passed it on to Will Genia who had the presence of mind to put in a lovely left-footed kick out to Rod Davies on the opposite side of the field in plenty of space, with the winger juggling the ball before trotting over.
Another Sharks mistake - this time some woeful passing inside their own 22 - allowed the Reds possession to set Anthony Faingaa up for the third try. The nightmare was not over for the Sharks either as Davies grabbed his second and the Reds' bonus point try with six minutes left in the first period after more good work from Cooper.
The Sharks outfit that came out in the second half was somewhat different to the one that started the encounter. Coach John Plumtree will have been happy to see his troops lift their game, but he'll also be frustrated that a 29-3 half-time score was required to spur them into action.
The men from Durban were rewarded for their efforts when Lwazi Mvovo broke strongly into the 22, with the ball moved wide to winger Piet Lindeque who went over in the corner.
The pressure continued to mount on the Reds and when Derrick Minnie crossed over after a great rolling maul in the 66th minute the Sharks may have dared to dream of a remarkable comeback with the scoreline reduced to 29-17.
However, they would prove their own worst enemy as the errors that plagued them in the first period once again became prominent. Twice poor handling saw them throw away strong positions close to the Reds line after effective use of the maul.
The match was summed up for the Sharks as a line-out after the hooter saw hooker Kyle Cooper produce a skew through five metres from the Reds try-line to ensure a 32-17 win for the hosts.
Ewen McKenzie's men will head off on their tour of South Africa with great confidence, but with the knowledge that such a lacklustre second-half showing could cost them in the future. For the Sharks a trip to Perth is next up and with their play-off hopes in the dust, they'll be playing for pride before the trip home.
For the Reds:
Tries: S Faingaa, Davies 2, A Faingaa
Con: Cooper 3
Pen: Cooper 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: Lindeque, Minnie
Con: Lambie 2
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai.
The Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Piet Lindeque, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Referee: Glen Jackson