Wet and windy conditions made running rugby difficult and led to handling errors that frustrated the crowd and created anxiety that permeated through the Sharks side as the game wore on.
The home team were still in the match going into the final few minutes, trailing 7-6, but Willie le Roux's intercept try made victory sure for the visitors.
The Sharks felt they had the referee's call of advantage as they sent the ball wide after an earlier knock-on from the Cheetahs but New Zealand official Jonathon White had already called it over by the time Le Roux intercepted.
It was the fifth time in eight games this season that the Durban-based Sharks had failed to score a try and they will have to improve vastly to make the play-offs.
The only try of the first half was scored by the Cheetahs but came from a comedy of errors from the Sharks.
The home side were on the attack on the edge of the Cheetahs 22 but knocked the ball on, allowing flank Heinrich Brussow to collect it and boot it down field.
Retreating Sharks centre Paul Jordaan tried to dive on the loose ball but missed, allowing Cheetahs speedster Raymond Rhule the chance to kick ahead and dive on the ball over the line. Burton Francis had no problem with the conversion.
Sharks fly-half Pat Lambie closed the gap to four points at halftime with a penalty after the visitors were accused of not rolling away from the breakdown fast enough.
In the second half, the Sharks had most of the possession but they struggled to take the ball through the phases and had to rely on Cheetahs mistakes for opportunities at goal.
Lambie landed his second penalty with 15 minutes remaining to bring the home side to within one point but the errors continued, allowing Le Roux to intercept Pieter-Steph du Toit's pass and score.
- Sports & Recreation
- the Sharks