The Sharks aren’t being afforded much hope for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Indeed, the eight-time champions have been the standout team in this year’s campaign while Robert du Preez’s troops have been plagued by inconsistency.
The Durbanites also been handed a few thrashings in Christchurch, notably a 34-77 loss in 2005 as well as 6-35 and 8-36 reverses in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
However, they’ve also had their share of good moments and narrow misses in the city.
Here are five results the Sharks need to keep in the memory banks.
1998 – LOST 32-36 (SEMIFINAL)
The Sharks were in cracking form under coach Ian McIntosh for most of the season, papering over the cracks that was an unbelievably poor campaign for South Africa in general.
They looked set for a home semi before losing two of their last three regular season matches.
Those slip-ups meant they had to travel to New Zealand.
The Sharks made a horrible start before clawing their way back with some fine attacking rugby.
Prop Ollie le Roux scored two of the Durbanites’ five tries on the night and had the legendary Andre Joubert’s boot been more accurate, a remarkable comeback might’ve been completed.
At least they had the consolation of outscoring the Crusaders in terms of tries.
1999 – LOST 29-34
The Sharks raced to a 22-6 lead on a cold night as their famed patience under McIntosh shone again.
Le Roux delivered another memorable moment when he set up a magnificent try for former Bok centre Pieter Muller after cutting back inside.
The problem was that the Crusaders were known that season for being the tournament’s so-called comeback kings.
Just a week earlier, the New Zealanders recovered from a 31-6 deficit against the Cats (when the Lions and Cheetahs were still merged) to storm to a 58-38 win.
When it became apparent the Sharks wouldn’t be able to capitalise on their lead, they knew they were in trouble.
2003 – LOST 18-23
This was a shocking year for South African rugby in general and an undistinguished season for the Sharks.
But they had an irritating habit of leading at half-time in at least half of their matches before letting their grip slip.
It was the same case here but in the context of the season, it was a highly encouraging result for the Sharks.
2006 – LOST 20-22
A season after being massacred by the hosts, the Sharks returned to Crusaders territory a team transformed.
Percy Montgomery intercepted a pass in midfield early before Odwa Ndungane scored shortly after halftime to lead the Sharks to a 20-6 lead.
But they were content to sit on that advantage, allowing the Crusaders to once again roar back.
Still, it required a sublime, long range drop goal from legendary All Black pivot Dan Carter to seal the deal.
2014 – WON 30-25
The crown jewel of the Sharks’ history in Christchurch.
The odds were firmly stacked against them after Jean Deysel was shown a red card in the 17th minute for a gut-wrenching stamp that was in full view of, well, everyone.
But Jake White’s men simply wouldn’t relent.
They scored two tries in the second half with Kyle Cooper’s match-winner coming two minutes after Willem Alberts returned from his own yellow card.
It was a magnificent, backs-to-the-wall triumph.