Pleasant on the eye, with a fair amount of tension built in but also error-ridden, the Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Sharks in Hamilton on Saturday was won 29-23 by the Mooloo men with two tries in the last 13 minutes clinching matters.
In all the Chiefs scored four tries to two in a match where territory and possession were just about equal.
The Lions had hoped for an unbeaten three-math tour after beating the Waratahs two weeks ago and then drawing with Crusaders last weekend.
Both sides rand hard and often, both made too many handling and other errors and the result was lots of fun for the ordinary spectator, frustration for the rugby connoisseur and despair for Sharks coach Robert du Preez.
The result moves the Chiefs off the bottom of the New Zealand conference and within two points of making the top eight.
Despite the defeat, the Sharks moved to the top of the SA Conference, one point ahead of the Bulls and the Jaguares who both have a match in hand.
For the Sharks there are the might-have-been questions of ill-discipline, like the rolling of the ball out of a ruck by Sbu Nkosi which brought a penalty and ensuing seven points to the home side just after Sharks lock Hyron Andrews’ good try for which he ran like a back; shoddy defence in the last quarter that gave the lead to the Chiefs in the last ten minutes with 12 points coming in the last 13 minutes and The Sharks ran more often and further, conceded more turnovers, had a higher missed tackles rate, but also won 94 rucks to 75.
But stats don’t count unless you make them count and that is what happened.
Chiefs(17) 29: Tries: Brad Weber (2), Mitchell Karpik, Anton Lienert-Brown. Conversions: Marty McKenzie (3). Penalties: McKenzie.
Sharks (10) 23: Tries: Hyron Andrews, Ruan Botha. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).