AUDIO: Highlanders' 'errors' handed win to Sharks
AUDIO: Highlanders' 'errors' handed win to SharksSHARE
The Highlanders headed into the clash with the Sharks at a back of the hard-fought 29-28 win over the Bulls at Loftus.
The Kiwi failed to produce yet another physical display and had to settle for 12-38 loss to the Sharks at the weekend.
The result made sure the second-placed Hurricanes increased the gap between themselves and the Highlanders in the New Zealand conference.
Fortunately, Aaron Mauger's men, who are currently placed fifth on the overall log, are still in the play-off contention.
The Highlanders struggled to find their rhythm, they conceded an early try when Akker van Merwe broke through the defence for the five-pointer after just 36 seconds.
It did not get any easier for the visitors as the Sharks added an additional four tries compared to their two.
Mauger credits Sharks' physicality as one of the main reason for their dismal performance.
While the coach partly blames his side's high error count.
"I thought we prepared really well for the game, but clearly we weren't there and it cost us.
"Basic errors throughout the game hurt us, it wasn't until the last 12 minutes we started playing some rugby and placed some stress on the Sharks' defence.
"Credit to the Sharks, they were outstanding. Their physicality was much better than ours and they created opportunists for themselves.
"The Sharks have enjoyed playing against the New Zealand teams. I thought they were outstanding on their NZ tour and against us, they cause stress with their physicality,"
Captain Ben Smith has echoed the coach's sentiments and revealed that they need to improve mentality if they want to beat the Lions in Dunedin this Saturday.
"The Sharks played really, but I think a few times we made errors that got them in our half," captain Smith told reporters at the press conference.
"We just have to get better. We have to take the lesson and learn from that game. Think next we just have to be better as a group.
"Think mentally we were just a bit off and you cant afford to be off your game,"