Bloemfontein - The Sharks have moved to the top of the Currie Cup log after beating the Free State Cheetahs 18-15 in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.
With the victory in the bag, the Durban-based side are on nine log points and the Cheetahs on seven, placing them first and second respectively.
That order will most likely change on Saturday with two more matches to be decided on Saturday.
The Cheetahs started at a frantic pace and drew first blood through a penalty two minutes after the start after the visitors misfielded the kick off and infringed at the break down.
Winger Riaan Smit converted the penalty to give the Cheetahs the early lead, but the visitors regained some composure after flyhalf Fred Zeilinga equalised three minutes later.
The Sharks looked the better side early on, particularly on attack and applied pressure on the Cheetahs.
However, the hosts' defence held strong, until Zeilinga kicked a drop goal in the 13th minute to put his side in the lead for the first time.
In a sudden burst of attacking play, the Cheetahs twice advanced to within five metres of the Sharks' try line.
The Cheetahs persisted and finally got through the Sharks' defences in the 21st minute when flanker Lappies Labuschagne burst over for the try, with Smit missing the conversion.
Four minutes later winger Raymond Rhule scored his side's second five-pointer after some helter skelter play by the home side.
This time Smit converted to give his side a nine-point lead.
The Sharks regathered and a good period of attacking play saw them move within metres of the Cheetahs' line.
The host's repeated collapsing of the Sharks' driving maul resulted in a yellow card for captain and flanker Boom Prinsloo.
The visitors had the last say of the first half when flanker Jean Deysel scored on the half-time hooter, while Zeilinga converted to leave his side trailing 15-13.
The second half started at a slower pace with both the Cheetahs and Sharks struggling to convert opportunities into points.
The visitors got the first points in the second half when fullback Louis Ludik rounded off a good passage of attacking play in the 64th minute with a try, with replacement Butch James missing the conversion.
In the last 10 minutes both sides exchanged blows but their attacks came to naught.
The Cheetahs launched an encouraging late attack but a knock-on brought play to a stop and a victory to the Sharks.
Free State Cheetahs - 15: Tries: Lappies Labuschagne, Raymond Rhule; Conversion: Riaan Smit; Penalty: Smit.
SHARKS - 18: Tries: Jean Deysel, Louis Ludik; Conversion: Fred Zeilinga; Penalty: Zeilinga; Drop goal: Zeilinga.