The Highlanders resisted an injury time onslaught from the Sharks for a first Super Rugby win of the season.
The Highlanders won 25-22 after trailing 15-7 at halftime.
The Sharks were awarded three penalties in the final three minutes but captain Keagan Daniel refused to kick for posts and finish with a draw. It was understandable decision with the Sharks believing they were capable of scoring a fourth try and getting five league points. They were already guaranteed a losing bonus point and instead of settling for two league points they attacked the Highlanders line for a match winning bonus point try.
The Highlanders were reduced to seven forwards and the Sharks surprisingly opted for a short lineout and the hosts managed to defend the attempted maul. It was a baffling decision, but there were more opportunities to win the game as Walsh penalised the Highlanders two more times in a frantic finish.
The Sharks showed decent composure to keep the ball but twice they had a number advantage on the outside and the ball carrier opted to go inside and take the tackle.
The Highlanders, without a win this season, were courageous and desperate in defence and a brilliant spot tackle ended the Sharks ambitions of a bonus point win.
The Highlanders scored first to lead 7-0 but the Sharks enjoyed the better of the first half and scored 15 unanswered points.
Highlanders flyhalf Colin Slade missed three penalties in the first half but the Sharks didn’t look troubled. It all changed in the first 15 minutes of the second half as the Highlanders played brilliant attacking rugby to score 18 points. Slade finished off arguably the try of the season and Meyer Bosman completed a Sharks period of play that involved close to 30 phases.
Bosman scored two tries and he and winger Lwazi Mvovo were the best of the Sharks backs.
Pieter-Stef du Toit was again impressive in a Sharks performance that never lacked in effort and conviction but could have done with a greater ball in hand decision making.
The defeat is the Sharks fourth in succession and fifth in nine starts.
Tries – Shaun Treaby, Aaron Smith, Colin Slade
Conversions – Slade (2)
Penalties – Slade (2)
Tries – Meyer Bosman (2), Lwazi Mvovo
Conversion – Pat Lambie (2)
Penalties – Lambie
Match report to follow …