Chiefs early blitz shakes Sharks

The Chiefs denied the Sharks a second bonus point with a late penalty to win 37-29 in Hamilton.

The hosts started brilliantly and finished well to take five league points from a Super Rugby match that could easily have seen the Sharks finish with five league points.

The South Africans only got one point but it could have been different but for poor decision making in the final 10 minutes.

The Chiefs led 34-26 but the momentum was with the Sharks who won a penalty right in front on 72 minutes. A successful kick would have reduced the home team lead to just five points and made for an anxious last six or seven minutes.

Instead replacement flank Keegan Daniel took a quick tap and the Sharks turned over possession.

The Sharks did take a penalty kick on 78 minutes to close within five points but conceded a penalty in the last minute to lose out on a second bonus point.

The Sharks were as poor as the Chiefs were good in the first 15 minutes as the hosts scored three converted tried to lead 24-0.

Sanity was restored to a match featuring last season’s finalists as the Sharks forwards settled and the visitors managed to tighten the game and bring more structure to proceedings.

The Sharks, defensively dire in the first quarter, started making their tackles, won turnovers and gradually gained control of possession. The reward was three tries within 15 minutes and a half-time deficit of just five points at 24-19.

Again the Chiefs struck early in the second half to lead 34-19 before the Sharks, through Daniel, scored the bonus point try.

The Sharks had not scored for 290 minutes in the competition when Lions import Derick Minnie broke the curse. Minnie got a double on the night and impressive fellow loose-forward Lubabalo Mtembu also scored.

Frans Steyn produced a stronger performance at outside centre and was very active throughout.

The Sharks were good in the set phases and dangerous in attack but the slow start and poor decision-making in the last quarter proved decisive.

Chiefs – Try: Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki, Tim Nanai-Williams (2). Conversion: Gareth Anscombe (4). Penalties: Anscombe (2), Aaron Cruden.
Sharks – Try: Derrick Minnie (2), Lubabalo Mtembu, Keagan Daniel. Conversion: Pat Lambie (3). Penalty: Lambie