Chiefs bring Sharks’ unbeaten run to an end
WAIKATO ended the Sharks’ unbeaten start to the Super Rugby season with a 15-9 victory in a rain-soaked match last night that was decided on penalties.
Flyhalf Mike Delany replaced Waikato teammate Andrew Donald, who was taken to hospital with a back injury, and kicked four penalties from five attempts to steer his side to a narrow win.
The Durban-based Sharks won their first four matches, posting their first-ever back-to-back wins in Australia but failed to improve on a 40 per cent winning record in New Zealand despite leading 6-3 at halftime.
For most of the match the championshipleading Sharks looked the better team but were unable to take advantage of a steady stream of Chiefs’ errors.
Though they also defended superbly, Delany’s goalkicking consigned them to defeat.
‘‘ It was an important win for us and very gutsy. The conditions weren’t too good but the boys gutsed that one out,’’ Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. ‘‘ It wasn’t the prettiest of rugby but we came away with the win.’’
The Chiefs paid a heavy price for their win, losing Donald to a back injury during the first half
The seriousness of the injury was not immediately clear but the flyhalf – recent understudy to All Blacks star Daniel Carter – was taken to hospital for examination.
Prop Ben May suffered a serious calf strain and replacement lock Romana Graham an apparent concussion, adding to Waikato’s already heavy injury toll ahead of next week’s match against the Auckland Blues.
Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie, who entered the match as the tournament’s leading pointscorer this season with 65 points, added to that tally with two first half penalties. He slotted goals in the fourth and 27th minutes while fullback Tim Nanai-Williams kicked a goal while Donald was receiving treatment.