The Sharks edged Griquas 33-34 at the death in a thrilling Super Rugby Unlocked Round 6 clash at Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley.
Curwin Bosch kicked a last-play penalty after the hooter sounded to steal the points for the Sharks against a distraught Griquas.
Joy quickly turned to ash for Griquas as the final moments played out.
Moments earlier, Tinus De Beer kicked – what looked to be the winner – in the dying seconds before another mistake from the restart gave Bosch the chance to break the Kimberley side’s hearts.
The flyhalf was almost flawless from the tee, kicking two penalties and four conversions to keep the Sharks in the match as the lead changed hands several times.
Sean Everitt’s charges trailed at the break and twice had to overturn 13-point second-half deficits as they mounted a spirited comeback.
Scott Mathie’s men will rue basic errors, especially mistakes from kick-offs, which have plagued their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign.
Lack of experience and De Beer’s muddled thinking, not taking the full minute to kick the 80th-minute penalty, ultimately paved the way to this gutwrenching defeat.
For the neutral, this contest was a thrilling seven-try affair as the teams traded blows in the Northern Cape.
Ederies Arendse, Eduan Keyter, and Gideon van der Merwe crossed for the hosts, who led 23-10 and 30-17 in the last half-hour.
But four tries from Sanele Nohamba, Manie Libbok, skipper Jeremy Ward and Dylan Richardson saw the visitors overturn the two-scores arrears.
The win puts the Sharks in second place behind the Bulls, who have a bye.
This desperate defeat sees Griquas rooted to the foot of the table without a win.
Tinus de Beer’s boot puts Griquas ahead at the break as sloppy Sharks botch several scoring opportunities
Griquas lost captain George Whitehead, who broke his hand during the captain’s run on Thursday afternoon.
De Beer replaced Whitehead at first receiver and Ashlon Davids moved onto the bench. Vice-captain Zak Burger took the armband from Whitehead.
The stand-off scored all the home team’s first-half points from the kicking tee to give Mathie’s team a slender two-point lead.
The Sharks scored the only try of the first stanza, in the 12th-minute, when Nohamba started and finished a counter-attack, scoring the game’s first try under the posts.
Johnathan Francke got isolated inside the Sharks half and lost the ball. Nohamba went to the short side where Marius Louw’s line-break sent the scrumhalf away untouched.
Bosch added the extras to put the Durban side in front by four, but De Beer kicked two more penalties afterward.
Everitt’s side was profligate. They several missed opportunities, eschewing kicking at goal twice.
Griquas defended with vigour, winning turnovers to keep the visitors out. The hosts – at times – dominated the set-pieces and the breakdown.
Stefan Willemse, Cameron Lindsay, and Adre Smith were immense, winning important penalties, while Mox Mxoli gave John-Hubert Meyer problems in the front row.
Bosch put the visitors back in front with an early second-half penalty after Mxoli got pinged for walking around at the scrum.
Griquas strike twice in quick succession as Sharks wobble
Griquas, however, struck minutes later when Arendse finished off a sublime attack.
The home team’s pack mauled their opposition’s 15 metres down the touchline from the previous lineout. Several phases of inter-passing between backs and forwards ended with the winger dotting down under pressure from Tambwe.
De Beer made no mistake from next to the posts to increase the advantage to six, on 50 minutes.
Keyter finishes off a superb solo score after a powerful scrum by his forwards. Burger went blind, and the winger slipped two weak tackles before speeding away to score.
The game opened up in the last quarter as the Sharks showed their quality, mounting spirited fightback
Another mistake from the restart saw Everitt’s men pull a converted try back.
Daniel Jooste was held up over the line after some superb defending by Griquas. But a five-metre scrum to the Sharks, when it should have been a 22-drop-out, gave the visitors a good attacking platform.
From the scrum, Manie Libbok scored in the corner after Nohamba’s delayed pass sent the substitute away.
It was end-to-end now. An untidy lineout by the Sharks allowed Griquas to pounce. Van der Merwe gathered the loose ball and rampaged to the try line.
De Beer’s third successful conversion re-established his side’s 13-point lead with 18 minutes remaining.
More mistakes from the restarts kept the hosts camped inside their 22. They had a terrible night from kick-offs, giving away cheap possession on several occasions; it’s been a problem all season and it proved costly.
Three minutes later, the men from the east coast took the lead when Ward bashed through two defenders to score.
Bosch had a hand in the try thanks to some wonderful dancing feet to stretch the home defence and added the extras to pull his side back to six points.
Griquas look to have won the contest but there was a twist in the tale
As the hosts tired, so the visitors’ superior conditioning – and experience – saw Everitt’s men regain the lead.
Richardson went over for the score following a break by No 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, who slipped Masixole Banda’s tackle, held off another defender before playing the supporting Richardson.
Bosch’s fourth conversion put the Sharks back in front. The flyhalf then missed a long-range effort that would have extended the lead to four after 72 minutes.
The hosts went down the field and won what looked to be the game-winning penalty; however, clock management by De Beer gave the visitors the opportunity to have one last attack.
The 24-year-old kicked the last-gasp penalty to put his side ahead with 10 seconds to play. However, as has been the case all season, the home team could not claim a restart.
Sbu Nkosi won the restart. It led to Bosch winning the game after the hooter sounded.
Joy for the Sharks, despair for Griquas, who threw another win in the bin.
Final Score: Griquas 33 (9) Sharks 34 (7)
Tries – Arendse, Keyter, G. Van der Merwe
Pen – De Beer (4)
Con – De Beer (3)
Tries – Nohamba, Libbok, Ward, Richardson
Pen – Bosch (2)
Con – Bosch (4)
Referee: Griffin Colby
Assistant Ref 1: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2: Paul Mente
TMO: Jaco Peyper
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Madot Mabokela, 19 Carl Els, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Ashlon Davids, 23 Daniel Kasende
15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Khwezi Mona, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Sbu Nkosi