The Crusaders came from behind to beat the Sharks 14-19 in a Super Rugby thriller at Kings Park in Durban.
The loss is the Sharks first of the season so now every team in Super Rugby has now lost at least one match.
The Crusaders outscored the Sharks by three tries to two but the Sharks led for most of the second half after a brace of tries from Crusaders mistakes.
The Sharks two tries were scored by winger Lwazi Mvovo and came from intercept passes against the play.
The Crusaders did all of the attacking in the match but the Sharks trusted their defences and thrived off the Crusaders scraps.
The Crusaders breakthrough came almost ten minutes from full time when All Black Kieran Read rounded off a 15-phase attack to score the visitors third try.
The New Zealand No. 8 struck eight minutes from time at Kings Park stadium in Durban after the South Africans had threatened to steal a remarkable round 5 victory.
Starved of possession, constantly trapped in their half and struggling at the scrums and line-outs, the hosts defended heroically under constant pressure.
Lucky to be level at 7-7 by half-time, the Sharks snatched the lead with a second try of the match for Springbok winger Lwazi Mvovo.
An unconverted try by giant Fiji winger Nemani Nadolo left seven-time Super Rugby champions Crusaders trailing 14-12 after 52 minutes of a fiercely-contested Test-like match.
Sharks repulsed wave after wave of attacks until scrum-half Andy Ellis found space close to the try-line and sent Crusaders skipper Read galloping over.
After a number of missed shots at goal by fly-half Richie Mo’unga, Nadolo replaced him and converted for a five-point advantage the Christchurch outfit comfortably retained until full-time.
“The Sharks pushed us all the way and it was a game that could have been won by either team,” said Nadolo. “We coped with the greasy ball and did our job well.”
Highlights from the third consecutive victory by the Crusaders included superb off-loading in the tackle and an ability to regain possession from tactical kicks.
While Sharks defended brilliantly, coach Gary Gold warned his team at half-time that they could not play in their half for almost the entire game and hope to win.
The Sharks started the match as the only unbeaten team in a competition that grew to 18 teams this season with the inclusions of the Japanese Sunwolves, Argentine Jaguares and South African Southern Kings.
They did collect a losing bonus point and remain top of the Africa 2 table with 16 points, three more than fellow South Africans Golden Lions.
The Crusaders are fourth in the New Zealand conference, five points adrift of two-time champions Chiefs with a game in hand.
Full-back David Havili, who was sin-binned in the second half for a shoulder charge, opened the scoring with a first-half try that fly-half Richie Mo’unga converted.
Sharks drew level before half-time thanks to a Mvovo intercept try that fly-half Joe Pietersen converted.
Another Mvovo try, this time after Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty failed to hold a pass, was converted by Pietersen to give the hosts a seven-point advantage completely against the run of play.
Nadolo went over in the corner when the New Zealanders were down to 14 men before Read emerged as the match-winner.
Next week the Sharks have a bye and the Crusaders travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions at Emirates (Ellis) Park.
Final Score Sharks 14 (7) Crusaders 19 (7)
Tries – L.Mvovo 2
Con – J.Pietersen 2
Tries -D.Havili, N.Nadolo, K.Read
Con – R.Mo’unga, N.Nadolo
Cards – D.Havili (48th min yelllow)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1:Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 2:Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO :Johan Greeff
15. Willie le Roux , 14. JP Pietersen , 13. Paul Jordaan , 12. Andre Esterhuizen , 11. Lwazi Mvovo , 10. Joe Pietersen , 9. Cobus Reinach , 8. Philip van der Walt , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez , 6. Marcell Coetzee , 5. Stephan Lewies , 4. Etienne Oosthuizen , 3. Coenie Oosthuizen , 2. Franco Marais , 1. Tendai Mtawarira (C)
Replacements , 16. Kyle Cooper , 17. Juan Schoeman , 18. Lourens Adriaanse , 19. Hyron Andrews , 20. Daniel du Preez , 21. Michael Claassens , 22. Garth April , 23. Odwa Ndungane
1. Joe Moody,2. Codie Taylor,3. Owen Franks ,4. Scott Barrett,5. Samuel Whitelock,6. Jordan Taufua,7. Matt Todd,8. Kieran Read (C),9. Andy Ellis,10. Richie Mo’unga,11. Nemani Nadolo,12. Ryan Crotty,13. Kieron Fonotia,14. Johnny McNicholl,15. David Havili
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell ,17. Wyatt Crockett,18. Mike Alaalatoa,19. Luke Romano,20. Jimmy Tupou,21. Tim Boys,22. Mitchell Drummond,23. Ben Volavola