The Reds have been left ruing three dropped balls with the tryline in clear sight as they failed to fight back from a sloppy start in their 35-20 Super Rugby loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Both sides scored two tries apiece, but the undefeated Sharks' goal-kickers kept the scoreboard ticking over with a faultless performance to deliver the Reds their second loss of the season.
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A strong opening half from the Sharks left the Reds out of reach.
Five-eighth Patrick Lambie kicked seven from seven and centre Francois Steyn nailed his two penalty attempts for a combined haul of 25 points.
It was pure, clinical rugby from the ladder-leading Sharks that had the name Jake White stamped all over it.
And there's no doubt the former Brumbies coach would have thoroughly enjoyed the win over his old Australia conference rivals.
The Reds were plagued by sloppy handling and wayward passes in the first half that resulted in a stuttering attack.
They bounced back and showed strong potential for a fight back that began just before halftime, but they dropped three balls that denied them an almost certain three tries.
The Sharks' forwards also completely dominated the Reds at the breakdown, and their skipper Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski often looked immovable over the ball.
The home side outscored the Reds four penalties to two in the opening 26 minutes, before Sharks flanker Willem Alberts drove over from close range in the 27th minute for 19-6 lead.
After another two Sharks penalty goals, Reds centre Michael Harris dropped a sitter of a pass with no one in front of him four metres from the tryline on the stroke of half-time - an error that all but summed up the Queenslanders' first half.
Fullback Aidan Toua committed a similar sin after the break, before letting another potential seven-pointer go begging minutes later when he dropped his own grubber kick in the process of scoring.
The Reds continued to play with more width, and it paid dividends when Harris made amends for his earlier blunder by busting through at close range in the 54th minute.
Reds halfback Will Genia then narrowed the gap to 28-20 when he caught the Sharks napping, but the comeback stalled when reserve flanker Beau Robinson was shown a yellow card in the 67th minute for pulling down an opposition player in the lineout.
Reserve Sharks forward Dale Chadwick scored a 77th minute try to seal the match.
The Reds now turn their attention towards next week's match against the Lions in Johannesburg, while the Sharks head to Pretoria to take on conference rivals the Bulls.
SHARKS 35 (Willem Alberts, Dale Chadwick tries Patrick Lambie 2 cons Lambie 5, Francois Steyn 2 pens) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 20 (Will Genia, Michael Harris tries Quade Cooper 2 cons 2 pens) at Kings Park Stadium. Referee: Lourens van der Merwe.