22 Apr 2016

Sharks pip 14-man Highlanders

9:31 pm on 22 April 2016

The Sharks have beaten the Highlanders 15-14 in their Super Rugby game in Dunedin, with an early red card to the hosts proving crucial.

See how the match unfolded here

Sharks fullback Willie Le Roux and the Highlanders' Jason Emery clash, Dunedin, Friday, April 22, 2016. Photo: Dianne Manson / www.photosport.nz

Sharks fullback Willie Le Roux clashes with the Highlanders' Jason Emery Photo: Photosport

The champions were forced to play with 14 men for most of the game, after midfielder Jason Emery was sent off in the 13th minute, for a dangerous aerial challenge on Sharks fullback Willie Le Roux.

The Springbok landed heavily on his neck and shoulders when Emery connected with him in the air, as he was taking a high ball.

Fortunately Le Roux escaped serious injury, though he did leave the field for a concussion check before returning.

Despite that, the Highlanders kept attacking, camping on the visitors' line for long periods and forcing the Sharks into two crucial yellow card infringements - leaving them 20 minutes without a player themselves.

Malakai Fekitoa tries to break the resolute Sharks defence. Photo: Dianne Manson / www.photosport.nz

Malakai Fekitoa tries to break the resolute Sharks defence Photo: Photosport

It was from the second of these that the hosts profited the most, wing Matt Faddes scoring the only try of the game on the hour mark, after his opposite number JP Pietersen was sin-binned for another infringement near the Sharks' line.

But a penalty with five minutes remaining gave the Sharks the lead back, and a Lima Sopoaga drop goal with time nearly up went agonisingly wide for the Highlanders.

The South Africans' win breaks a three-game losing streak, while it's the second straight one-point defeat for the Highlanders, who also lost a close one in Brisbane to the Queensland Reds before their bye.