WELLINGTON • A disputed penalty try kept the Coastal Sharks up with the ACT Brumbies as the only unbeaten teams after round three of Super Rugby.
The Sharks downed the previously unbeaten Western Stormers 18-13 on Saturday while the Brumbies boosted their title credentials with an impressive 31-14 win over Western Force.
The Golden Lions tasted defeat for the first time, going down to the Otago Highlanders 15-34.
The thriller between the Sharks and Stormers turned early in the second half when the Sharks drew level at 10-10 courtesy of a penalty try and a yellow card for Stormers flanker Siya Kolisi.
Back-row forward Kolisi was accused of deliberately kicking the ball from the hands of Sharks scrum-half Cobus Reinach as he attempted to score. However, television replays indicated the contact may have been accidental.
But there was no doubt about the Brumbies' superiority over the Force as they raced to 17-0 midway through the first half.
The Force did manage one try before half-time, only for the Brumbies to resume their charge in the second half for a confidence-boosting four tries to two win before heading to South Africa to play the Stormers this week.
The Lions' winning run came to a sudden halt in Dunedin when the Highlanders scored three converted tries, all from 70-metre moves, in a 15-minute burst just after half-time.
It lifted the defending champions from a 10-3 lead at the break to a 24-3 advantage and, while the Lions came back with two late tries, they never looked like hauling in the deficit.
Waikato Chiefs full-back Damian McKenzie, 20, became the highest individual scorer in a Super Rugby match this season with 28 points in the 58-24 thrashing of Southern Kings.
The New Zealander kicked seven conversions and three penalties from 10 goal attempts in Port Elizabeth. He surpassed the 23 points of Stormers' Robert du Preez recorded against Northern Bulls two weekends ago.