The Sharks got their Super 14 off to a damp squib of a start with a dire 18-19 defeat to the Chiefs in a sodden Durban on Saturday.
The Sharks got their Super 14 off to a damp squib of a start with a dire 18-19 defeat to the Chiefs in a sodden Durban on Saturday, in a match with a bizarre finale.
Rory Kockott kicked five penalties to Stephen Donald's three in a misery of a game ruled by the boot in wet and heavy conditions, but Jackson Willison's try and Stephen Donald's conversion looked to have given the Chiefs the spoils three minutes from the end.
But Richard Kahui gave away an asinine penalty at the restart and allowed Kockott to regain the lead for the Sharks.
Then at the restart, a Sharks player was caught offside after a knock-on and Donald kicked the winning goal – all kicks in the final three minutes!
It was all kicks all game if truth be known, with barely a backs move to write home about.
It was all about kicking for territory during the early stages with the sweeping east coast rain clearly affecting the normal game of both sides.
The Chiefs had a good chance to get on the board after 11 minutes when Stefan Terblanche was penalised for cleaning up Brendon Leonard at the ruck, but Donald put his penalty wide.
However, the New Zealand fly-half made no mistake with his second attempt from straight in front.
Kockott responded with back-to-back penalties to put the hosts in the front – the first an excellent in-curling effort from the right touchline – before captain John Smit was sent to the sin-bin after a yellow card for going over the top following an earlier warning.
Donald put the resulting penalty over, but the visitors failed to capitalise on their 15-14 man advantage with their number 10 squandering a straightforward kick on the half-hour mark.
That miss saw the teams going into the half-time break level at 6-6.
The rain seemed to slow down during the interval and straight from the restart, Aled De Malmanche was penalised at a line-out allowing Kockott to put the Sharks back in the lead.
Ten minutes into the half, the visitors were twice denied tries with the goal-line at their mercy – JP Pietersen defensively involved on both occasions, the first of which saw him somehow get the better of Richard Kahui one metre out.
Those near misses proved costly as Kockott then stretched the lead to nine points with two more penalties, but again the New Zealanders fought back – this time pressure from their forwards tempting Bismarck into illegal entry into a ruck with Donald bringing the gap back to six with another penalty.
The Springbok hooker put additional pressure on the hosts with seven minutes to play when an off-the-ball incident led to him being yellow-carded and that proved decisive.
Three minutes from the end Willison was sent on his way to score by replacement Junior Poluleuligaga – his finish close enough to the post to allow Donald to add the extras.
But there was still time for another couple of twist.
Kahui's late tackle on Ryan Kankowski gave Kockott another chance to score and he obliged to put the Sharks 18-16 up.
The hosts, however, where then caught off-side from the restart and Donald made no mistake with a simple penalty to snatch a valuable win.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Kockott 6
For the Chiefs:
Pens: Donald 4
The Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Chiefs: 15 Mike Delany, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Colin Bourke, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 James McGougan, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Jarrad Hoeata, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathan White (New Zealand), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)