The Sharks outscored the Hurricanes three tries to two while also adding three penalties and a dropped goal, leaving the Hurricanes lamenting two key errors on defence that enabled the Sharks to score two quickfire opportunistic tries soon after halftime and grab a 13-point lead
These two tries made the difference in a frenetic and hotly contested match that saw the Hurricanes dominate territory but fail to capiatalise in the face of committed Sharks defence.
The Sharks seized upon two defensive lapses presented to them within minutes of each other early in the second spell, with left wing Luzuko Vulindlu and first five-eighth Frans Steyn crossing for converted tries to turn a 10-9 Hurricanes halftime lead into a 23-10 Sharks advantage.
Flying winger Vulindlu sailed through to score in the left hand corner after a quickly taken lineout that caught the Hurricanes napping from a skewed Hurricanes kick into touch on the full, while Steyn chased through and regathered an up and under kick that was knocked on by replacement Hurricanes fullback Tamati Ellison in front of his posts.
Suddenly down by the margin of two converted tries, the Hurricanes battled tremendously hard to reassert the earlier momentum that they had created, and got back to within six points with 13 minutes remaining when right winger Zac Guildford scored in the corner and first five-eighth Piri Weepu added a pinpoint conversion from the sideline.
But their comeback was short-lived, almost immediately the Sharks extending their lead to 26-17 courtesy of a Steyn dropped goal from a midfield turnover.
Once more the Hurricanes swung back on to the offensive through a concerted period of attacking phase play but were unable to break through again in the face of a whole hearted and organized Sharks defensive effort. In key chances, replacement hooker Dane Coles crucially spilled the ball forward from the base of a ruck and second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu was cut down twice in front of the goal line.
Managing to Keep the Hurricanes out, the Sharks then scored again on fulltime through replacement winger Chris Jordaan to seal victory, Jordaan finishing off a counterattack and kick and chase started from near halfway.
Earlier, the Hurricanes had started the match in promising vein, playing with purpose and accuracy early on in establishing a 10-3 lead after 15 minutes.
Weepu turned an early period of Hurricanes ascendancy into the first points of the game with a penalty, and blindside flanker Faifili Levave ran on to a short pass by Nonu to score a decisive opening try.
Sharks halfback Rory Kockett kept his side in touch with three first half penalties to see a one-point advantage to the Hurricanes at halftime.
The Hurricanes were unlucky not to have scored a second try immediately before the interval, through a sizzling break by openside flanker Karl Lowe, carried on by centre Conrad Smith who picked up the ball and wrestled over the chalk. But Lowe was adjudged to have not released the ball in the tackle and the danger was averted by the Sharks.
This was the Hurricanes' seventh visit to play the Sharks in South Africa, having now won three and lost four in six matches played at Durban and one in East London. Overall, the Hurricanes and the Sharks have now met 14 times, including once each in 1996 and 1997 with the Sharks now ahead seven wins to six and with one draw on the head-to-head count.
The Hurricanes meet the Western Force on Friday in their next match, before returning home to Westpac Stadium in Wellington for consecutive matches against the Stormers, Brumbies and Blues.
Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Francois Steyn, Chris Jordaan
Conversions: Rory Kockott (2)
Penalties: Rory Kockott (3)
Dropped Goal: Francois Steyn
Tries: Faifili Levave, Zac Guildford
Conversions: Piri Weepu (2)
Penalties: Piri Weepu (1)
Halftime: Hurricanes 10-9
The scoring action (by minute):
5th: Piri Weepu penalty. Hurricanes 3-0
8th: Rory Kockett penalty Hurricanes 3-3
14th: Faifili Levave try Hurricanes 8-3
15th: Piri Weepu conversion Hurricanes 10-3
20th: Rory Kockett penalty Hurricanes 10-6
23rd: Rory Kockett penalty Hurricanes 10-9
43rd: Luzuko Vulindlu try Sharks 14-10
44th: Kockett conversion Sharks 16-10
47th: Frans Steyn try Sharks 21-10
48th: Kockett conversion Sharks 23-10
67th: Zac Guildford try Sharks 23-15
68th: Piri Weepu conversion Sharks 23-17
69th: Steyn dropped goal Sharks 26-17
78th: Chris Jordaan try Sharks 31-17
79th Kockett conversion Sharks 33-17
The Hurricanes team was:
1. John Schwalger
2. Andrew Hore
3. Neemia Tialata
4. Bryn Evans
5. Jason Eaton
6. Faifili Levave
7. Karl Lowe
8. Rodney So'oialo (c)
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Piri Weepu
11. David Smith
12. Ma'a Nonu
13. Conrad Smith
14. Zac Guildford
15. Cory Jane
16. Dane Coles
17. Jacob Ellison
18. Tim Fairbrother
19. Api Naikatini
20. Victor Vito
21. Willie Ripia
22. Tamati Ellison