The Sharks climbed into eighth place on the Vodacom United Rugby Championship table after a last-minute try sealed a bonus-point win over Benetton in Treviso on Saturday.
The result moved the Sharks above the Stormers to become the best-placed South African team in the overall standings.
Sean Everitt’s side came into the match wary of Benetton’s threat after the Italian side stunned the Vodacom Bulls in last year’s PRO14 Rainbow Cup final.
However, the Sharks showed none of the same complacency that had troubled the Bulls, opening the scoring through Ruben van Heerden’s try in the fifth minute and never giving up the lead from there.
While Benetton had their opportunities in the first half, it was the Sharks who went into the break 21-0 up, with Aphelele Fassi and Phepsi Buthelezi adding tries just before half time.
The Sharks thought they had the bonus-point try when Thomas du Toit sent front-row partner Ox Nche over, but it was chalked off after a TMO review.
Captain Lukhanyo Am was then yellow-carded and Benetton took advantage, scoring their only points of the game through lock Carl Wegner.
Just when it looked like Benetton may have done enough to deny the visitors the four-try bonus point, Sbu Nkosi found space on the outside and crossed the tryline with only a minute left to play.
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