Kieran Read marked his return with a match-winning try as Crusaders consigned Sharks to a first Super Rugby defeat of the season with a 19-14 victory in a pulsating encounter at Kings Park on Saturday.
New Zealand captain Read, restored to the side as skipper, settled an almighty battle with a try nine minutes from time to end the only unbeaten Super Rugby record this season and give Crusaders a third consecutive win.
Both sides had tries ruled out and Sharks lost Philip van der Walt to injury in a brutal encounter, but Todd Blackadder's side outscored Sharks by three tries to two to seal a hard-fought victory.
Richie Mo'unga missed an early chance to put Crusaders in front from the tee, but David Havili went over to open the scoring for the visitors 25 minutes in after good work from Nemani Nadolo.
Mo'unga was able to add the extras, but missed another penalty just before half-time after Lwazi Mvovo intercepted and scampered away for a converted try to level late in the first half.
Crusaders enjoyed plenty of possession, but Mvovo capitalised on another mistake to complete a double and Joe Pietersen converted to put Sharks 14-7 up early in the second half.
Blackadder's men lost Havili to the bin, but Nadolo powered his way over in the corner and the pressure finally told when Read dotted down following 15 phases from Crusaders with Nadolo converting.