Chiefs put an end to Sharks' unbeaten run
The Sharks missed a golden opportunity to claim an unbeaten Australasian tour when they lost 29-23 to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
In an exciting and entertaining game, where the sides traded the lead regularly, the Sharks looked on their way to a momentous win when they led the tie 23-17 in the 66th minute.
But two brilliant tries in two minutes from Anton Leinert-Brown and Brad Weber in the 67th and 69th minutes condemned Robert du Preez's side to a sixth defeat of the season.
After a poor start to the season, the Chiefs collected their fourth win and though they looked disjointed at times, once they found their attacking groove from broken play, they were irresistible.
It was an opportunity for the Sharks to pull away from the Bulls with a bye this coming weekend ahead of their May 25 home date against the Lions.
They didn't make the most of it, especially in light of the Bulls' heavy home defeat against the Crusaders. The Bulls also have a four-match Australasian tour that will make or break their playoff aspirations.
After 12 games the Sharks have only 29 points and the Bulls have 28 from 11.
The Jaguares also missed a chance of going to the top of the SA conference after their 32-27 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin in the earlier game.A win would have given them breathing space, but such is the Sharks' inconsistency, the loss wasn't surprising. They did well to fight back from a 10-0 deficit after Weber's first try in the 25th minute, alongside a Marty McKenzie conversion and a 10th-minute penalty gave them the lead.Hyron Andrew's 30th-minute converted try and a 32nd minute Curwin Bosch penalty saw the Sharks draw level, but Mitch Karpik's 34th- minute try and Bosch's 38th-minute penalty gave the hosts a 17-13 half-time lead.The Sharks found some coherence in the second half and on the back of Nathan Harris's 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a deliberate foul, scored a converted try through Ruan Botha in the 56th minute. Another Bosch penalty in the 61st minute gave the Sharks the six-point lead.Bosch again had a superb outing with 13 points and an astute tactical display that prevented the Chiefs from playing deep in the Sharks' half.But Robert du Preez's entry in the second half saw Bosch move to fullback and the Sharks again lost their attacking shape, allowing the Chiefs to fight back.The Sharks back three also played superbly, with Makazole Mapimpi the best. Tries from Leinert-Brown and Weber ended the contest despite a rally from the visitors.