WELLINGTON (AFP) - In a weekend of the unexpected, Dillyn Leyds argued against his game-defining try and Joe Pietersen bungled a gift penalty as the Brumbies' and Sharks' winning starts to the Super Rugby season came to an end.
Leyds' dubious try may have left the winger stunned but it ignited a late charge by the Western Stormers in their 31-11 win over the previously unbeaten ACT Brumbies.
Pietersen, the Coastal Sharks match-winner against the Stormers a week ago, had the chance to be a hero again against the Northern Bulls with a penalty in front of the posts after the final hooter and with the scores locked at 16-16.
He inexplicably missed the close-range shot and the Sharks' perfect run came to an end, although they remain top of the Africa 2 Conference, two points clear of the Golden Lions.
The Stormers remained in command of the Africa 1 conference with 14 points from three wins out of four while the Bulls, who have only played three matches, were eight points behind in second place with one win and a draw.
The Melbourne Rebels, who overwhelmed the Sunwolves 35-9, joined the Brumbies at the top of the Australia conference on 13 points.
Waikato Chiefs moved to the top of the New Zealand conference after winning a 30-26 thriller over the Jaguares as Super Rugby made its debut in Buenos Aires.
The Chiefs have 14 points, one more than the defending champions Otago Highlanders, who survived a storming comeback by the NSW Waratahs to win 30-26.
It was a dramatic close to the Stormers-Brumbies clash in Cape Town after replacement Brumbies hooker Josh Mann-Rea was red-carded for punching and the resulting penalty put the Stormers out to a 19-11 lead.
As the Australians fought to recover the deficit, the game slipped away from them when Leyds was surprisingly awarded a try with five minutes remaining.
Leyds signalled that he had lost the ball diving for the line and indicated to referee Jaco Peyper it was no try. However the television match official ruled otherwise and to Leyds' clear astonishment, the try was awarded.
At Loftus Versfeld, the Sharks were left red-faced after prematurely celebrating what they thought was a momentous win against Bulls.
With time up and the Sharks pressuring the tryline, flanker Marcell Coetzee forced the Bulls into conceding a penalty which had his team-mates jumping and hugging each other, assuming the kick was a formality for Pietersen.
But the close-range shot drifted to the right of the posts and the Sharks had to settle for a draw.
The Highlanders powered to a comfortable 30-0 over the Waratahs before the Sydneysiders fought back with 26 unanswered points and had hopes of an unlikely victory in sight before the defending champions regained their composure.
It put the Highlanders briefly on top of the New Zealand conference before the Chiefs closed out the weekend with a come-from-behind win over the Jaguares.
A 79th-minute try by Brad Weber, converted by Damian McKenzie, sealed their 30-26 victory.
The Lions served notice that they were a genuine force after completing their swing through Japan and New Zealand to return to South Africa and beat the Central Cheetahs 39-22 in their first game for the season on home soil.
The Wellington Hurricanes, after an unconvincing start to the year, hit the form that took them to last year's Super Rugby decider with a 41-6 win over the Western Force.
The Canterbury Crusaders outscored the Southern Kings eight tries to three as they romped to a 57-24 bonus point win, while a last-gasp Ihaia West penalty handed the Auckland Blues a 25-25 draw with the Queensland Reds.