The in-form Sharks continued their late run in the Super 14 with a 20-14 win over the second-placed Stormers in Durban on Saturday night, securing their sixth win in seven games and climbing another place up the ladder.
The hosts rose to eighth on the log with one round to play, while the Stormers failed to guarantee themselves a home semifinal and are only one point ahead of the third-placed Waratahs, with the Brumbies, Hurricanes and Crusaders all within three points.
The Sharks dominated the entire first half and held a deserved 14-0 lead at the break.
They took control early on when eighth man Ryan Kankowski, playing his 50th Super Rugby game, received the ball on the right wing in the sixth minute and offloaded to Odwa Ndungane who dotted down the first try of the game. Flyhalf Ruan Pienaar converted to give them a 7-0 lead.
Inside centre Lwazi Mvovo almost stretched the gap further in the 32nd minute when he beat Stormers fullback Gio Aplon to a high ball, but Mvovo fumbled it in the air going over the line with Sireli Naqelevuki closing in.
Six minutes later, however, Pienaar burst clear after chipping and giving chase. Naqelevuki got a hand to it in the Stormers goal area but failed to touch it down, and Pienaar pounced on the loose ball, adding the conversion shortly before the break.
The visitors came out fighting in the second half, however, and four minutes into the second half Dewaldt Duvenhage sent it out to centre Tim Whitehead from a maul. Whitehead offloaded to Peter Grant and the flyhalf went over to give the Stomers their first points of the game. Grant converted his own try, narrowing the gap to 14-7. Minutes later Grant and Pienaar both fluffed difficult penalty kicks, sending their attempts wide, but Pienaar made amends in the 66th minute when he got another chance and made no mistake, and added another with five minutes on the clock to give his side a 20-7 lead.
And in the dying minutes Ricky Januarie offloaded to Francois Louw who went over for the Stormers, with Grant adding the conversion to close the gap to six points and secure his side a bonus point.