The Sharks recorded a hard-fought 24-14 victory over South African rivals the Stormers in their final Super Rugby match before the league’s suspension after a fiery start at Kings Park.
SANZAAR announced earlier on Saturday the competition would be paused following this weekend’s matches amid the coronavirus outbreak.
And it was the Sharks who headed into the indefinite break top of the conference with a tense late win, although they might well have been comfortable had Johan du Toit been shown a red card after just 12 seconds.
Indeed, it appeared Du Toit was going to be sent off as he challenged Louis Schreuder in the air.
Du Toit took a knee to his head in the process as Schreuder left the match on a stretcher, but the referee, advised by the TMO to dismiss the Stormers player, showed only a yellow card.
1′: The kick off is high and hanging, @LouisSchreuder goes up to take it…And is flipped over in mid-air by Du Toit!
The ref is immediately on the whistle, TMO into action, as is the medical team! Stretcher out.
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) March 14, 2020
Aphelele Fassi broke the deadlock in a tight affair after 26 minutes as he ripped through a hole on the left, only for the Stormers to provide a swift response through Herschel Jantjies following a sloppy restart.
Curwin Bosch brought the first half to a close with a drop goal deep into added time that secured a three-point lead, which the same man extended from the tee early in the second period after Jantjies had bowed out with an apparent injury.
But the Stormers were in front for the first time when Damian Willemse converted from a Paul de Wet score just after the hour-mark.
A stunning long-range Bosch dispatch edged the conference leaders in front once more, however, and his third successful penalty late on preceded a rapid Makazole Mapimpi try that sealed victory.