Clearly, when the gun is pointed straight between our eyes, we react better
The Sharks are playing a Super Rugby version of 'Russian roulette', according to coach John Plumtree.
Speaking ahead of the crunch encounter with the Bulls in Durban on Friday, Plumtree admitted they are to blame for the dire situation they find themselves in.
With just two rounds of league action remaining before the play-offs, the Sharks are in a three-way tie - with the Hurricanes and defending champion Reds - but the men from Durban have been pushed out of the top six as a result of their inferior winning record.
The Hurricanes occupy sixth place (the last play-off spot), ahead of the Reds and Sharks - all on 49 points and trailing the fifth-placed Crusaders by three points.
The table-topping Chiefs (62 points) are already ensured of a play-off spot, while the Stormers (58), Brumbies and Bulls (both 54 points) are also fancied to advance.
However, Plumtree is adamant his team's race is not yet run.
"There are three teams on the same number of points and a few teams above us on the log, so it's a case of controlling what we can control and that's obviously the game this week and then see what happens in the final week," the Sharks mentor said.
"There are still going to be a few twists," he said, adding: "No one would have expected the Hurricanes to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch [last week], and I expect there to be more surprises in the last two rounds."
However, defeat on Friday, against the Bulls, could end the Sharks' campaign.
"We had a gun to our heads about six rounds ago," Plumtree said, adding: "We got onto a [four-match] winning streak and then let ourselves down against the Lions," he said of a 28-38 loss the week before the break for the June internationals.
"Clearly, when the gun is pointed straight between our eyes, we react better, which is a bit unfortunate.
"But it's a home game for us," Plumtree said, adding: "We're looking forward to a big crowd to help us out.
"We have a few worries, but there is plenty of character in this group and we have to dig deep on the weekend and get on top of this Bulls team that is riding pretty high at the moment.
"It's important that we focus on what we need to do and see where we're left after that."
Plumtree felt that, like all games against the Bulls, it will require a huge physical battle to overcome the Springbok-laden team from Pretoria.
"A strategy gets put in place," he said of Friday's derby, adding: "We played them early in season, but didn't look after all of their threats - we didn't get on top of them and hence they got the win.
"They put us under pressure and our discipline wasn't good enough and we weren't good enough on the day; we need to turn that around."
He added that he has been "very impressed" with the Bulls pack.
"They dominated the Chiefs forwards when they played them [in Week 14], they did the same to the Cheetahs last weekend and the Stormers pack before the June Tests.
"They've been excellent with their driving line-out, they've been clinical - winning ball is not really a problem for them. They strangle the life out of you. They win the territory battle and their possession stats are right up there as well.
"We have to turn that around somehow and that's what we've been working on the last couple of days."