Bernard Foley kicked a late conversion from near the touchline to give the Waratahs a 24-24 draw with the Sharks in Durban.
NSW were four minutes away from defeat at Kings Park before Mitch Short scored a try that got them to within two points, latching onto a bullet-like pass from Bryce Hegarty.
Foley needed strong nerves to land the conversion from out wide to level the scores, and they secured a share of the spoils when the Sharks missed a last-gasp drop goal attempt through Curwin Bosch.
The contest was marred by errors though the Sharks will take plenty of positives from the way they dominated at the scrum.
With the Waratahs having beaten the Stormers in their opening game in Sydney last week, they were disappointed not to follow up with another victory.
They got off to a great start when scrum-half Jake Gordon scored a try inside the first five minutes which Foley converted.
But the home side responded as Robert du Preez kicked a penalty and centre Lukhanyo Am went over for a try after Andre Esterhuizen's line break.
Du Preez's conversion made it 10-7 to the Sharks, with Foley then levelling from a penalty.
The Sharks were denied a try at the end of the first half when Tendai Mtawarira was held up just short of the line.
But they did take the lead after the break as Am left the NSW defence in his wake to score a converted try.
The visitors again drew level with a try from nothing, Tom Robertson handing off to skipper Michael Hooper who weaved a path to the try line before dotting down under the posts, giving Foley an easy conversion.
Fly-half Du Preez was set up for another Sharks try by Marius Louw's chip and chase, then added the conversion to make it 24-17, but the pattern of the game was repeated as the Waratahs grabbed their late converted try to earn a draw.
The Waratahs are 18/1 to win the Super Rugby final.
Meanwhile, Australia are 12/1 to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
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