13-Man Sharks edge Chiefs

Date published: March 21 2015

The Sharks denied the Chiefs back-to-back wins in South Africa on Saturday as they held on to win 12-11 at a very wet Kings Park.

The result also means the Sharks end a five-game losing streak against the Chiefs, but they had to do it the hard way, having played with a man down for over 50 minutes.

Hookers Hika Elliot and Bismarck du Plessis and Sharks centre Frans Steyn were all sent off in separate incidents inside the first half-hour in a drama-filled encounter.

The Chiefs made their extra man count as they scored the only try of the game in the first half via a rolling maul to lead 11-9 at the interval.

The driving rain turned the second half into a bit of a lottery but the Sharks scrum continued to dominate. A penalty from Pat Lambie on the hour mark proved to be the only points of the second period and the winning score.

The rain certainly helped but it took a monumental defensive effort to keep the Chiefs at bay in a very tough encounter.

Opposing fly-halves Pat Lambie and Aaron Cruden exchanged early penalties with very little to choose between the sides in the opening minutes.

The game was turned on it's head on the 15-minute mark when referee Angus Gardner sent Elliot off. With the Sharks camped on the Chiefs' line, the visiting hooker shoulder charged into Tendai Mtawarira, who was lying on the side of a ruck. The officials deemed the impact on the Sharks prop's head to be worth a red card.

That should have been the end of the contest but, just two minutes later, Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis stupidly kicked out at the head of Chiefs number eight Michael Leitch when held on the floor. A red card was obvious, meaning parity was restored.   

The weather turned dramatically as the wind suddenly started howling the rain started coming down, enough to send Lambie's second kick at goal into the upright, leaving the scores unchanged.  

There was more drama to come as Steyn saw red for a dangerous tip tackle on Cruden. TMO Marius Jonker pleaded with his colleagues on the field to show leniency because Cobus Reinach had also contributed to the tackle, but the fact that Cruden landed on his neck left the only one option according to the laws of the game.

Cruden got up to land the penalty but Lambie replied in kind to level the scores after half an hour.

The Chiefs rumbled over the whitewash for the first and only try with a textbook rolling shortly afterwards with Sam Cane the man holding the ball. Cruden's conversion effort went wide, leaving the Chiefs up 11-6.

Both Du Plessis brother were off (Jannie was substituted) as the half reached it's conclusion but the Sharks scrum managed to squeeze out a penalty, which Lambie duly sent over to keep his side in the hunt.

The hammering rain and strong wind turned the second half into an arm wrestle and the Chiefs will rue a number of missed chances.

The Sharks defence held out though with Lambie's solitary penalty enough to edge ahead.

With 12 minutes to play, Cruden had a chance to retake the lead for the 2012 and 2013 champions, but instead sent his penalty wide.

Five minutes later the same player squandered another chance – this one a straightforward drop goal attempt from right in front – leaving the Sharks to hold on for a famous win.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 4
Red Cards: B.du Plessis, Steyn

For Chiefs:
Try: Cane
Pens: Cruden 2
Red Card: Elliot

Sharks:15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Waylon Murray.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Jamie Mackintsoh
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Tom Marshall, 23 Hosea Gear

Venue: Kings Park
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)