Chiefs show character to beat Sharks
April 27, 2013
The Chiefs beat the Sharks in a fantastic game of rugby
© Getty Images
The Chiefs showed great character and perseverance to win 37-29 against a resilient Sharks outfit at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday night. The hosts broke out to a 24-0 lead inside 20 minutes before the Sharks fought back to reduce the margin to 24-19, and the anxiety among the supporters in the stands was palpable. But the Chiefs rediscovered their attacking bravado, with their character in question, and they secured a victory that could make their season.
If any match summarised the Chiefs' season, this was it. At times, particularly in the opening quarter, the Chiefs looked unbeatable. From there, a difficult second quarter was followed by a similarly inconsistent second half as both sides walked off the park with four-try bonus points. Tim Nanai-Williams had a brace of tries complemented by those of Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Bundee Aki. For the Sharks, Derick Minnie scored a brace with Lubabalo Mtembu and Keegan Daniel also crossing.
The Chiefs repaid the fans who turned out with the most dominant opening quarter of a Super Rugby match this season, scoring three tries as they raced to a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 advantage. The clinical Chiefs of old were back. But they also took it upon themselves to become their own worst enemies, with missed tackles and loose penalties allowing the Sharks two lineout opportunities within five metres of the Chiefs' line. The Sharks took advantage of both, with Lions import Minnie and another Gauteng player, Lubabalo Mtembu, scoring.
Minnie then crossed for his second, and the Chiefs and their crowd were on edge at half-time, but the hosts returned after the break with the attacking vigour that had been absent in the second quarter. Nanai-Williams' second try, the Chiefs' fourth, ensured the home side secured a valuable bonus point before the Sharks duly responded with their bonus-point try.
The Sharks, as they had done all night, pushed hard, and they pulled within seven points when Frans Steyn landed a straightforward penalty goal after Nanai-Williams was penalised for an offence at the breakdown after making a try-saving tackle. But Aaron Cruden's first penalty, after the siren, shut the Sharks out of a second bonus point and saw the five-eighth clock 400 career Super Rugby points.
The Chiefs won a remarkable game in Hamilton (video available only in Australia)
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton