Sharks sink in Hamilton

Date published: March 18 2011

The Sharks tasted their first defeat of the Super Rugby season after going down 15-9 to the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

The Sharks tasted their first defeat of the Super Rugby season after going down 15-9 to the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

Phew! Thank goodness that is over. No tries, no thrills but plenty of spills in a sloppy and error-riddled match decided by the boot.

Replacement fly-half Mike Delany kicked four penalties to get his side home, while opposite number Patrick Lambie could only manage three from the tee in wet conditions.

A draw would have been a fair reflection as neither side impressed, but the Sharks – unbeaten up until now – will settle for a consolation losing bonus point before they jet off to London to tackle the Crusaders at Twickenham.

Of course, the Chiefs will be delighted to get back to winning ways after losing to the Hurricanes a week ago. But plenty of work is needed if they are to be a force in this year's tournament – from both teams.

Lambie got his name on the scoreboard early on, after making the Sharks' first visit into Chiefs' territory count with a trademark penalty goal in the fifth minute.

However, besides Lambie's three-pointer, it was all the Chiefs in the opening 15 minutes with the Sharks having to make 25 tackles compared to only five from the hosts. But the Chiefs were their own worst enemy by knocking on everything in sight due to the Sharks' uncompromising defence.

In the end, the hosts had to settle for a Tim Nanai-Williams penalty whilst regular kicker Stephen Donald was receiving medical attention for a reoccurring injury picked up against the 'Canes.

The visitors nearly got over for the first five-pointer soon afterwards, but a try-saving tackle from Lelia Mesaga on Lwazi Mvovo ended with the Sharks' speedster flattended in the corner.

The Sharks though extended their lead when Lambie made it two from two after Chiefs prop Nathan White was blown up in the scrum.

The Chiefs had an opportunity to cross the whitewash on the stroke of half-time, but after ten phases trying, the Sharks' defence once again kept the hosts out and the South Africans went into the break with a slender 6-3 lead.

It was a mixed start by the Chiefs in the second half, after lock Isaac Ross was pinged at the restart for being in front of the kicker. However the Sharks were penalised at the ensuing scrum on half-way which allowed Delany a chance at three points. It was a long shot, but the replacement pivot nailed it to tie up the scores.

Delany was at it again – this time a lot closer to the target though, as the former All Black number ten kicked his side in front for the first time in the match. Lambie squared it up once again though in the 56th minute as the game hung in the balance (9-9).

As the game rolled on, the mistakes increased and the Sharks' frustration grew – hooker Bismarck du Plessis guilty of giving away a crucial penalty right in front of the sticks for Delany to convert and recapture the lead.

The writing was on the wall for the visitors after a number of sustained attacks by the Chiefs were cancelled out by desperate Sharks' defenders who struggled to get their hands on the ball.

With the match already won, Delany hammered the final nail into the Sharks coffin with his fourth successful penalty goal of the match – he missed just one attempt – to send Waikato Stadium into raptures… and bring our pain from watching to an end.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Pens: Nanai-Williams, Delany 4

For Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 3

Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Dwayne Sweeney.

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (c).
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Adrian Jacobs.

Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

By Dave Morris