CAPETOWN (Reuters) – Lukhanyo Am scored a last gasp try to hand the Sharks a dramatic 12-9 away victory against the Stormers on Saturday and a Super Rugby playoff place.
With time up and the Sharks facing elimination, Springbok centre Am cut inside and through the Stormers defence with a darting run to snatch victory as the Durban side desperately searched for success in a must-win contest.
They were 9-5 down after three penalties had seemingly handed the Stormers a berth in next weekend’s quarter-finals but instead it is the Sharks who progress.
Their opponents will be determined later on Saturday once the last regular season game between the Bulls and Lions in Pretoria has concluded.
The Sharks scored two tries to three penalties for the home team. Flyhalf Josh Stander struck over the first two and Jean-Luc du Plessis the third.
Frenetic early exchanges between the two teams saw both sides putting together series of attacking phases, sprinkled with some creative running, but stout defence with hard hits kept the first 23 minutes scoreless.
Stander put the injury-hampered Stormers ahead with a penalty and they looked odd-on to increase the score just five minutes later as they attacked the Sharks line.
But a loose pass from the flyhalf hit the knee of Sharks centre Rhyno Smith and the ball sat up perfectly for the midfielder to grab it and run the entire length of the field for an intercept try.
A second Stander penalty had the Stormers back ahead 6-5 at the break.
The home side were celebrating prematurely four minutes from time when Du Plessis put over another kick to stretch the lead, only for the Sharks to come back and win the game at the death and silence a stunned home crowd.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson)