Sharks coach John Plumtree conceded his team's massive error count was the key contributor to their Super Rugby loss to the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday.
The hosts spurned several opportunities throughout the game, making mistakes in crucial areas at King's Park that allowed the New Zealanders to re-take top spot on the log in a tense 12-18 win.
"The little opportunities we had, we didn't take, ultimately that was probably the difference in the end," said Plumtree.
"That's the difference between winning and losing.
"The effort and commitment was there, the plan we had in place was working nicely.
"We put them under a lot of pressure, but then they also put us under pressure, so the intensity of the match was right up there."
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden scored 13 points for the Chiefs, including the opening try after the coastal team had dominated territorially early on, much to the frustration of Plumtree.
After young Springbok back Patrick Lambie scored all of the Sharks' points, Augustine Pulu landed a superb late try for the visitors to seal the victory.
Charl McLeod, Riaan Viljoen and Tim Whitehead were among the main culprits to have fallen victim to basic handling errors, though, Plumtree refused to point a finger at anyone.
"Individual errors, a dropped pass, those types of things are really disappointing from a team's perspective," Plumtree said.
"And that's what team sport is about, individuals make mistakes, and we just made too many on the night."
Plumtree also felt his side were not overawed by the Waikato-based tourists, saying their ability to match them stride-for-stride was a major positive.
"I didn't think the Chiefs were any better than us, we had more opportunities and created more chances," he said.
"They are one of top sides in the competition, they're right up there and have been for a while now.
"The impressive thing about them is that they are backing up their performances.
"They're not having that drop off but we're struggling to put those wins together, that's the difference."
The win for Dave Rennie's side made it seven out of eight this season, while the hosts slumped to a fifth defeat in nine matches.
"It's now backs to the wall stuff," Plumtree said.
"We have to play really well in May, that's the message.
"If we can come up with the same commitment and attitude and just get a bit more accurate, then we'll be hard to beat like we were against the Chiefs."
"And that is what we've got to believe in."
The Sharks now have their first bye of the competition next weekend, before returning to play the Highlanders at home on May 5.