Christchurch - A 14-man Sharks side cemented their Super Rugby competition lead with a historic 30-25 win over the Crusaders in a dramatic clash in Christchurch on Saturday.AS IT HAPPENED: Crusaders v Sharks
It was the first time the Sharks have beaten the Crusaders at home in the history of Super Rugby, and it was the first time any South African side has won in Christchurch since 2001.
For 65 minutes, after Jean Deysel was red-carded, the Sharks were undermanned - and in the 63rd minute they sank to 13-men for 10 minutes when Willem Alberts was sent to the sin-bin.
But, despite the disciplinary lapses, they overcame their numerical disadvantage after the lead changed seven times in the tense clash.
The Crusaders won the forward battle, yet despite dominating possession they were held out by a desperate defence by the Sharks, who outscored their opponents three tries to one.
The winning points came with a try to replacement hooker Kyle Cooper with five minutes remaining.
The win turned around the Sharks' fortunes after they had lost two of their last three games, but for captain Bismarck du Plessis it was more important that they broke their Christchurch hoodoo.
"It's very emotional for us, we've been here and come close but we've never won here so it's a big thing," he said.
"A red card that early in the game just brings the team so much closer to each other and everybody talked so much it made my job that much easier. But I wouldn't say I would like another red card early next week."
The Sharks struck early with a quick try to Sibusiso Sithole, the result of a deft back-of-the-hand pass by Frans Steyn who started the move when he sliced open the Crusaders defences.
Colin Slade levelled the score with a try and conversion, then put the Crusaders ahead with a penalty when Deysel was red-carded for stamping on the face of Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua.
A further penalty pushed the Crusaders out to 13-7 before Steyn narrowed the gap with his first penalty just on half-time.
An individual kick and chase effort by Cobus Reinach put the Sharks back in front immediately after the resumption.
A series of penalties by Slade and Steyn had the Sharks ahead 20-19 when the Crusaders regained the lead with another Slade kick after Alberts was yellow-carded.
The lead chopped and changed again as Tim Swiel and Slade exchanged further penalties before Cooper sealed the outcome.
The seven-time champion Crusaders, who started the match with a chance to take over from the Sharks at the top of the table, instead had to settle for one bonus point.
It left them third in the New Zealand Conference behind the Chiefs and Highlanders and fifth overall.Scorers:
Tries: Colin Slade
Penalties: Slade (5)Sharks
Tries: Sibusiso Sithole, Cobus Reinach, Kyle Cooper
Conversions: Frans Steyn (2), Tim Swiel
Penalties: Steyn (2), SwielTeams:Crusaders
15 Tom Taylor, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty (captain), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willie Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Nafi Tuitavake
15. SP Marais 14. JP Pietersen 13. S’bura Sithole 12. Paul Jordaan 11. Lwazi Mvovo 10. Francois Steyn 9. Cobus Reinach 8. Willem Alberts 7. Jean Deysel 6. Tera Mtembu 5. Stephan Lewies 4. Etienne Oosthuizen 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain) 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper 17. Dale Chadwick 18. Lourens Adriaanse 19. Ryan Kankowski 20. Keegan Daniel 21. Charl McLeod 22. Tim Swiel 23. Heimar Williams