You could tell it was the last game of an arduous tour as fatigue brought errors for the Sharks and they slipped to a 29-23 Super Rugby defeat at the hands of the Chiefs, the home side’s last 12 points coming in the space of three minutes at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
As well as several handling errors inside the Chiefs’ 22, the Sharks suffered two crucial defensive lapses in the final quarter, tired legs just not being able to get across and defend against the runner cutting back inside.
Who was the star in this match?
Tyler Ardron rates as one of the lesser-known locks in international rugby simply because he plays for Canada, but the 27-year-old showed he has immense quality on Saturday. He made a nuisance of himself in the lineout and was at the forefront of the Chiefs’ pack’s efforts to match the physicality of the big Sharks forwards. But his most memorable moment came after the final hooter as he produced one of the best tackles of the season to secure victory for his team.
Key moments and themes
- Curwin Bosch is one of those rare flyhalves who can stamp his presence on the game, seemingly controlling everythng that goes on around him. That’s what he was doing for three-fifths of the game as his tactical kicking was excellent, his distribution sublime and his eye for the gap ever keen. Barring a couple of defensive wobbles, it’s not as if the Chiefs were pouring through his channel either. That’s what made the decision to move him to fullback and bring Robert du Preez (the coach’s son) on at flyhalf a surprise. The opposition were struggling to contain Bosch’s attacking threat and moving him further away from the action loosened his grip on the game.
- On the inexplicable theme, the Sharks conceded a crucial try late in a first half they had dominated to go into the break 13-17 down thanks to a moment of indiscipline by Sbu Nkosi that was really quite stupid. The wing, who otherwise enjoyed a fine, hardworking game, scooped the ball back from a ruck right in front of referee Nic Berry, who gave a competent display with the whistle. The penalty gave the Chiefs the opportunity to set a 5m lineout and flank Mitchell Karpik burst off the back of the rolling maul and burrowed over for the try.
- The Sharks’ starting back three looked a unit with top-class potential. Fullback Aphelele Fassi combined well with Bosch, while Mapimpi stamped his presence on the game in the second half and Nkosi was excellent in the first half, linking well and chasing the good tactical kicking of the Sharks particularly well. It was a fine chase by Nkosi that led to the Sharks’ first try, after a good box-clearance by scrumhalf Louis Schreuder. Nkosi regathered the ball as the Chiefs fumbled and somehow got it to lock Hyron Andrews, who showed a remarkable turn of speed as he galloped over in the 31st minute.
- The Sharks are still making a whack of mistakes – simple passes being dropped, poor passes being thrown, kicks going straight into touch and even their dominant scrum conceded a crucial penalty five metres from the Chiefs’ tryline. They also made crucial defensive errors, slipping one-on-one tackles that ultimately cost them a match they should have won. Having taken six points though from huge physical efforts against the Waratahs and the Crusaders, one can excuse them some fatigue. They will be pleased to be returning home for a bye.
Chiefs – Tries: Brad Weber (2), Mitch Karpik, Anton Lienert-Brown. Conversions: Marty McKenzie (3). Penalty: McKenzie.
Sharks – Tries: Hyron Andrews, Ruan Botha. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).