Durban – A late try by Peter Playford earned the Waratahs a 16-12 win over the Sharks in the Super 14 on Saturday.
The bonus point the Sharks picked up for finishing within seven points meant the two teams were level in mid-table on 36 points, still in contention for the playoffs.
In a tense match played in an unseasonal downpour, the Australians opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a penalty from flyhalf Daniel Halangahu.
Flyhalf Ruan Pienaar, back after long-term injury, levelled for the South Africans five minutes later with the first of four well-struck penalties.
The visitors grabbed the first try on the half-hour when former rugby league centre Timana Tahu dived over in the right-hand corner following good work from prop Benn Robinson.
Pienaar booted his third penalty early in the second half, but his good work was immediately undone by captain Johann Muller, who gave away a penalty at a ruck that Halangahu slotted over.
Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis was denied a try by the television official and wing JP Pietersen was also unlucky for the Sharks when he had a touchdown ruled out.
The near-misses proved costly when Sharks fullback Stefan Terblanche failed to clear a loose ball in the closing stages and gifted the winning try to Playford.
Waratahs: Tries - Timana Tahu, Peter Playford. Penalties - Daniel Halangahu (2)
Sharks: Penalties - Ruan Pienaar (4)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (RSA)