DURBAN – The Sharks were too strong for a depleted Chiefs side, running out 28-24 winners, in a Super Rugby match played at the King Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
The match was deadlocked at 10-10 at half-time with the visitors predictably taking longer to settle after having had to replace their All Blacks quarter Damian McKenzie, Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienert-Brown and Nathan Harris for national camp duties, after the side's 15-9 win over the Stormers last weekend.
Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez slotted the opening points of the match via a penalty in the fifth minute, before scoring a converted try four minutes later after some fine work by the home team forwards.
However, Chiefs found their rhythm as the match progressed with Canadian lock Tyler Ardon crossing the Sharks whitewash from a line-out five metres out. Marty McKenzie, who took over the No 10 jersey from his brother Damian McKenzie, added the conversion. He also level the scored four minutes before the break via a penalty.
As was the case at the start of the first period, the Sharks came out after the interval in winning mode, and the speedy Lwazi Mvovo charged through to get two hands on the ball to score a five-pointer in the 41st minute.
Six minutes later, the visitors took advantage of some hap-hazard Sharks passing, with Chiefs captain and centre Charlie Ngatai snatching the ball and going over to score. McKenzie added the conversion to put the New Zealanders ahead for the first time in the match.
The lead didn't last too long, with Du Preez slotting home a penalty for the hosts three minutes later. The KwaZulu-Natal franchise then extended the lead in the 57th minute from a scrum, where scrumhalf Cameron Wright produced a class dummy to nip over the tryline for another five points, with Du Preez adding the conversion. This opened a 25-17 lead for the hosts.
There was a further three points for Du Preez and his team in the 67th minute via a penalty after Chiefs centre Jonathan Faauli was penalised for a high tackle on the Sharks flyhalf.
The visitors did manage to secure a single bonus point in the loss, when they scored their third try on the stroke of the final whistle, with Solomon Alaimalo darting towards the corner to score after Sharks flank Jacques Vermeulen had lost the ball on the attack. McKenzie slotted the conversion.
The Sharks will turn their attention to their next Super Rugby fixture, against the Jaguares at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday, while Chiefs will face the Waratahs in Hamilton the following day.
Scorers: Sharks 28 (10) : Tries: Robert du Preez, Lwazi Mvovo, Cameron Wright. Conversions: du Preez (2). Penalties: du Preez (3).
Chiefs 24 (10) : Tries: Tyler Ardon, Charlie Ngatai, Solomon Alamailo. Conversions: Marty McKenzie (3). Penalties: Marty McKenzie.
African News Agency