May 12, 2019

Match Report - Gallagher Chiefs win thriller over Sharks

Two tries in as many minutes late in the second half has seen the Gallagher Chiefs come from behind to beat the Sharks 29-23 at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Leading 17-13 at halftime, the Chiefs let their advantage slip to trail until the final 10 minutes, when tries in quick succession from Anton Lienert-Brown and Brad Weber saw them clinch their fourth win of the season.

From the opening kick-off, the Chiefs showed good intensity and worked hard to make inroads against a resilient Sharks defence. After a dominant first 10 minutes, they were unable to break through and settled for a 40 metre penalty from first five Marty McKenzie.

A strong response from the Sharks meant it was time for the Chiefs to front up on defence, and they were eventually able to clear the danger thanks to a huge scrum just metres from their line that earned them a penalty.

As the match moved into the second quarter, the Sharks were enjoying more of the possession and territory. But then, somewhat against the run of play, the Chiefs broke out from near halfway with McKenzie making a half break before the ball found its way back inside to halfback Brad Weber, and the captain scooted away to score under the posts.

The first points of the night for the Sharks followed soon after as first five Curwin Bosch slotted a penalty from handy range to make it 10-3 in favour of the Chiefs after 30 minutes.

Clearing from the kick off, a strong kick chase from the Sharks put pressure on Solomon Alaimalo, and the fullback dropped the ball right into the hands of lock Hyron Andrews who raced away with long lopping strides to score.

Suddenly, after the Bosch conversion, the Chiefs' lead was gone and momentum seemed to be with the visitors.

Following the tries from each side, the game sprung into life and some composed play from the Chiefs forwards saw flanker Mitch Karpik cross the line.

McKenzie nailed his third kick of the night to restore the Chiefs' seven point lead, but that was soon reduced to four after a long-range penalty from Bosch just before the break.

An entertaining start to the second half saw the ball in play more and better running rugby from both sides. There were chances at both ends but desperate defence kept the score as it was at break after 50 minutes of play.

A yellow card for Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris heaped further pressure on the Chiefs defensive effort, and just a minute later a lineout drive ended in a try to lock Ruan Botha to give the Sharks their first lead of the evening.

Bosch was successful with the conversion, and then another penalty soon after, to stretch the advantage out to six points with 20 minutes remaining.

After being restored to 15 men, the Chiefs regathered their composure and confidently worked their way downfield. After 16 phases of play, they finally scored their third try as midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown run a good line to hit a gap and dot down.

McKenzie pulled his conversion just wide which left the Sharks hanging on to a one-point lead.

From the kick off came one of the tries of the season. Replacement back Alex Nankivell started things off, bursting into a gap inside his own 22, and his long flat pass found Alaimalo who ran a nice angle to get near the line, before offloading to Brad Weber who crossed for his second try.

This time McKenzie was on target and the quick double strike swung the match firmly in the Chiefs favour.

A thrilling finish saw the Sharks put together several minutes of attack to get to within 20 metres of the Chiefs line, but the Chiefs gallantly defended 18 phases before forcing a handling error that sealed a hard fought four competition points.

Gallagher Chiefs 29 (Brad Weber 2, Mitch Karpik, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Marty McKenzie 3 cons, pen) Sharks 23 (Hyron Andrews, Ruan Botha tries; Curwin Bosch 2 cons, 3 pens) HT: 17-13.

The Gallagher Chiefs now face a trip up State Highway 1 for a local derby match up with the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday 18 May (kick off 7.35pm).

Match Report - Gallagher Chiefs win thriller over Sharks