Sharks hold on for historic win
The Crusaders wasted a golden opportunity to join the Chiefs at the top of the New Zealand conference as they fell to a 30-25 defeat against a 14-man Sharks side in an ill-tempered Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
The home side were outscored by three-tries-to-one despite the Sharks having flanker Jean Deysel sent off in the 16th minute and number eight Willem Alberts sinbinned in the second half.
It was the Sharks' first ever win against the Crusaders in New Zealand and kept them at the top of overall standings.
All the Crusaders' points came from fly-half Colin Slade, who scored his side's try in the first half and added the conversion and six penalties.
The Sharks' points came from tries to S'Bura Sithole, Cobus Reinach and Kyle Cooper's match-winner, while Francois Steyn kicked two conversions and as many penalties before his replacement Tim Swiel also added a penalty and a conversion.
It was the visitors who started brightly and were the first to cross the whitewash when Steyn made a rare charge through a huge gap in midfield and flicked the ball back for Sithole to dot down.
However, the Crusaders responded quickly with a try to Slade after Reinach failed to gather a Willi Heinz up-and-under.
Deysel then saw red for apparently stamping on the head of Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua.
Taufua had been stopping Deysel from rejoining the play by holding on to his leg but the South African deliberately targeted the player's head, leaving referee Ryan Hoffmann no choice but to show him a red card.
Yet despite the blow, the Sharks defence scrambled well to keep the Crusaders out, with the hosts restricted to two further penalties from Slade before Steyn pulled three points back before the interval to close the deficit to 13-10.
However, it was the Crusaders who were chasing the game from early in the second half when Reinach showed a good turn of speed to hack ahead and gather to score.
The match see-sawed from then on, with Slade exchanging penalties with first Steyn and then Swiel as both teams battled to gain the upper hand in what was becoming a scrappy contest.
But it was the Sharks who came up with the telling score six minutes from time, working the ball down to the Crusaders' 22 and allowing Cooper to cross, with Swiel adding the extras.