Sharks keep up 100% record
February 28, 2009
Francois Steyn was instrumental in the Sharks' victory
© Getty Images
The Chiefs were denied two tries within the space of four minutes by the television match official as the Sharks hung on grimly for a 22-15 Super 14 win in Hamilton. Captain Liam Messam then replacement back Mike Delany appeared to have scored tries as the match entered its final few frantic minutes.
Loose forward Messam thought he had grounded the ball in a try-line scramble in the 74th minute only for referee Bryce Lawrence to be told by the television match official that he had been held up. Then a fine cutout pass from fly-half Stephen Donald seemingly set Delany up for a try in the right-hand corner only for the same official to rule a 22m dropout. Replays showed Delany's right arm scraping the touchline in-goal and the match official concluded that occurred at precisely the same moment he grounded the ball.
Springbok Francois Steyn provided the class touches for the Sharks in a match which went down to the wire. The impressive centre scored the only try of the first half just 3min before the interval to earn his team a 7-3 lead then laid on a try for left wing JP Pietersen midway through the second spell.
Pietersen had the luxury of running on to the ball in the in-goal area after Steyn produced a beautifully weighted and angled chip kick which left the Chiefs defenders powerless to prevent the outcome. That cancelled out a Chiefs try nine minutes earlier from hard working hooker Aled de Malmanche, who burrowed over from close range to earn his side a brief hold of the lead.
Within 10 minutes of Pietersen's first try there was almost an action replay but this time from further out as fly-half Ruan Pienaar kicked ahead for the wing to run on the ball and cross the line unopposed. The contest appeared over that this stage with the Sharks bounding out to a 22-8 advantage but the Chiefs stayed in touch entering the last 10 minutes through scrum-half Brendon Leonard, who was unstoppable after taking a quick tap just short of the tryline.
Outside of the result there was much to admire from the Chiefs, even if their back three of fullback Sosene Anesi and wingers Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lelia Masaga were anything but secure when the Sharks kicked the ball in their direction. The Chiefs forwards, ridiculed for their capitulation against the Waratahs last week, battled gamely and their set piece was solid. De Malmanche and prop James McGougan were industrious in general play, but they missed No 8 Sione Lauaki, who did not emerge from the team dressing room after the halftime break.
The Chiefs more than held their own throughout the first half after taking the lead in the 14th minute when Donald nailed a 51 metre penalty. The conditions made life difficult for those tempted to open the game up although the home side threatened on the odd occasion only to be undone by either faulty handling or desperate Sharks defence.
The Sharks lost scrum-half Rory Kockott for 10 minutes when he was sent to the sin-bin by Lawrence for a professional foul. Kockott had no argument when Lawrence let it be known that holding back a player by the jersey would not be tolerated.
The Chiefs could not capitalise on their temporary numerical advantage, though, and it was the Sharks who scored next when winger Odwa Ndungane returned a poor kick with interest, scurrying up the centre of the field to launch a counter-attack in the 37th minute.
Lawrence then missed a forward pass as the Sharks ferried the ball left before Steyn stepped inside a defender to cross the tryline, with Kockott converting to give the tourists their halftime advantage.
Chiefs: Sosene Anesi, Lelia Masaga, Dwayne Sweeney, Callum Bruce, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Brendon Leonard, Sione Lauaki, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam (capt), Kevin O'Neill, Craig Clarke, James McGougan, Aled de Malmanche, Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: Hika Elliot, Ben May, Toby Lynn, Serge Lilo, Toby Morland, Mike Delany, Jackson Willison
Sharks: Stefan Terblanche; Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen; Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott; Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (capt), Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Deon Carstens.
Replacements: John Smit, Tendai Mtawarira, Keegan Daniel, Ross Cronje, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindiu