The Highlanders ended their eight-game losing run after holding on to beat the Sharks 25-22 at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.
The Sharks turned down the penalty attempts in the last two minutes but the desperate Highlanders held on for victory before 11,000 ecstatic fans.
In a compelling match, Force back-rower Ben McCalman and Reds replacement Chris Feauai-Sautia scored the only tries of the night, with the remainder of the points coming from the respective boots of Sias Ebersohn and Quade Cooper.
Winger Cam Crawford scored a hat-trick as the Waratahs ran in 11 tries to thrash the Southern Kings 72-10 in Port Elizabeth.
Later on the Bulls climbed up to third spot in the Super 15 standings by thrashing the Hurricanes 48-14 at Loftus Versfeld.
The 2007, 2009 and 2010 champions outscored their opponents six tries to two as they made it four wins on the trot while securing a bonus point in the process.
The match was as good as over by half-time with the Bulls racing into a 27-0 lead through tries from JJ Engelbrecht, Deon Stegmann and Akona Ndungane with Morne Steyn contributing the rest of the points from two early penalties and three conversions.
The Hurricanes gave themselves a glimmer of hope when scrum-half TJ Perenara went over, but further tries from Dean Greyling, Perenara again, Lionel Mapoe and Louis Fouche put the result beyond doubt.