The Sharks breathed new life into their Super Rugby campaign with a crucial 31-24 victory over South African Conference leaders the Lions at King's Park in Durban on Saturday.
The home side trailed by 10 points at halftime, but the produced a powerful final 20 minutes to claim a victory that saw them move within nine points of the Lions at the top of the conference table, but with a game in hand.
More importantly, the victory keeps intact their hopes of a quarterfinals place via the overall table as they are within three points of eighth-placed Melbourne Rebels.
No. 8 Dan du Preez, centre Andre Esterhuizen and wing Lwazi Mvovo scored the tries for the Sharks, while wing Ruan Combrinck, and flankers Cyle Brink and Kwagga Smith, crossed for the visitors.
The Sharks drew first blood as Du Preez profited from a drive at an attacking lineout and barged his way over, with brother Robert missing the conversion.
But the Lions -- who welcomed back captain Warren Whiteley, hooker Malcolm Marx and wing Ruan Combrinck, who all missed the Springboks' Test series victory over England through injury -- hit back almost immediately as their skipper carried the ball forward from a lineout and flyhalf Elton Jantjies produced a fine skip-pass that saw Combrinck cross in the corner.
Robert du Preez restored the lead for the home side after the Lions went offside and were penalised, but the visitors grabbed a second try as Brink bashed through the tackles of Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi and scrumhalf Cameron Wright to score.
The Lions had a period of pressure in the Sharks' half, but they were denied by heroic home defence while they also had a try from Jantjies chalked off for a forward pass in the build-up.
The Sharks rode that pressure, and Robert du Preez kicked a penalty to narrow the deficit when they did find themselves in the Lions 22 again.
But the Lions got their third try before halftime when Marx released Springboks Sevens star Smith down the left wing, and the loose forward had too much pace for the retreating Sharks defence and the visitors led 21-11 at the break.
The Lions turned down a number of kickable penalties in the third quarter of the game, opting for set-pieces instead, but they came away with no points from what was a dominant spell of possession.
And the Sharks narrowed the deficit to three points with virtually their first attack of the second half as Esterhuizen managed to dot down in the corner just before the hour-mark.
Robert du Preez kicked a penalty to level the scores shortly afterwards, but straight from the kick-off the Lions were given the opportunity to regain the lead from a penalty and Jantjies delivered.
The Sharks edged in front again when Mvovo gathered an intercept and raced clear to score in the corner, with the conversion taking the lead to four points.
The turnaround was complete when fly-half du Preez added another penalty as Smith was adjudged to have entered the ruck from the side, with the Sharks holding their opponents at bay for the remainder of the match.