Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn is considering his future at the franchise after watching his exciting young team fall painfully short in the Super Rugby AU final.
The Sharks welcomed the Queensland Reds to Kings Park with both teams coming off losses in Round 9.
The Reds were looking for their first win on South African soil since 2015, while the home side were looking to bounce back from a humiliating 34-point loss at the hands of the Jaguares.
The Reds got off to the perfect start as fly-half Bryce Hegarty sliced through the Sharks defence to go in under the posts.
Both sides struggled with handling errors during the early exchanges, which made for a scrappy contest early on.
The Queenslanders were soon in dreamland when some magic from their captain Samu Kerevi had them up by two converted tries.
From the line-out, Kerevi burst through one tackle before offloading in the next to Chris Feauai-Sautia, who enjoyed a free run to the line.
Trailing by 14 inside 20 minutes, the crowd at Kings Park were beginning to fear a repeat of last week.
The home side answered their supporters’ prayers as a line-out drive was too good for the visiting side, Kerron van Vuuren coming up with the try.
The ever-reliable Robert du Preez added the extras to bring the Sharks within seven of the Reds with 14 minutes left in the half.
Each side traded handling errors through the last period of play, and the Reds took a seven-point lead into the interval.
The second half got off to a slow start as both sides traded penalties and knock-ons.
But it was the Reds who would break the deadlock, and once again, their points were created through their skipper.
Kerevi broke the first tackle and offloaded in the next to put Sefa Naivalu away on the right wing. Naivalu was brought to ground but the support play by the Reds was fantastic.
Hegarty ran a bustling channel and offloaded on the inside to Scott Higginbotham, who did the same and put youngster Tate McDermott away for his fourth try of the 2019 season.
The Sharks couldn’t build any momentum as they racked up the handling errors, and couldn’t finish positive attacking plays.
However, with less than a minute to play, Daniel du Preez skipped down the blindside from the back of a scrum and dotted it down for a five-pointer.
The conversion from Curwin Bosch gave the Sharks a losing bonus point and they rushed back to halfway, hoping another converted try would salvage a draw.
But it wasn’t to be.
Three minutes after the siren, the Sharks were on the attack deep in the Reds half. They looked to be mounting a heart-breaking offensive on the visitors.
But Durban-born Liam Wright latched onto the ball in the ruck and couldn’t be moved.
Referee Federico Anselmi obliged with the penalty to the Reds and the match was over, securing a 21-14 victory for the Australian outfit.
The Reds had their first win against the Sharks in South Africa in eight years.
Liam Wright’s turnover at the death was an example of the Reds’ tenacity, resilience and persistence.
It has been an up-and-down season for the Queensland side, with four wins from nine games.
This win may gave them much-needed confidence and belief for their next game at home against the Sunwolves, but that will have to wait as they have the bye in Round 11.
The Sharks are reeling after two losses at home to sides they were expected to beat.
They currently sit third in the South African conference, equal with the Lions, who beat the Chiefs away from home.
But it doesn’t get any easier for the side from Durban. They now embark on a three-game overseas tour where they will face the Waratahs, Crusaders and Chiefs.