CANBERRA - The Reds have been left ruing three dropped balls with the tryline in clear sight as they failed to fight back from a sloppy start in their 35-20 Super Rugby loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Both sides scored two tries apiece, but the undefeated Sharks' goal-kickers kept the scoreboard ticking over with a faultless performance to deliver the Reds their second loss of the season.
Flyhalf Patrick Lambie kicked seven from seven and centre Francois Steyn nailed his two penalty attempts for a combined haul of 25 points.
The Reds were plagued by sloppy handling and wayward passes in the first half that resulted in a stuttering attack.
They bounced back and showed strong potential for a fight-back that began just before halftime, but they dropped three balls that denied them an almost certain three tries.
The Sharks' forwards also completely dominated the Reds at the breakdown, and their skipper Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski often looked immovable over the ball.
The home side outscored the Reds four penalties to two in the opening 26 minutes, before Sharks flanker Willem Alberts drove over from close range in the 27th minute for 19-6 lead.