Super Rugby: 3 red cards as Sharks beat Chiefs
Three players were sent off in the first half as the Sharks beat the Chiefs 12-11 despite playing a man down for over 50 minutes of their Super Rugby meeting on Saturday.
Both hookers — Hika Elliot of the Chiefs and Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks — were red-carded within a couple of minutes of each other early on, Elliot for an illegal shoulder charge at a ruck, and Du Plessis for kicking a player after being tackled.
Sharks center Frans Steyn went for a dangerous tip tackle on Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden.
The Sharks gritted it out after that in driving rain and swirling wind at Kings Park in Durban, where some of the stadium lights also failed. Flyhalf Pat Lambie kicked four penalties. The Chiefs had a try by flanker Sam Cane and two Cruden penalties, but couldn’t score any points in the second.
“The Sharks showed great heart in the end with 13 men,” Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. “Tonight was just an ugly game of rugby.”
Earlier, the Crusaders of New Zealand continued their resurgence with an eight-try, 57-14 win over the Cheetahs of South Africa, with four of those tries coming in a devastating six-minute spell while Cheetahs playmaker Willie le Roux was in the sin-bin.
The Bulls beat the Western Force 25-24 through a last-minute penalty by Handre Pollard, who kicked 20 points at Loftus Versfeld to deny a game Force, which outscored the home team three tries to one.
With one game remaining in the sixth round, the Chiefs missed the chance to draw level with the leading Wellington-based Hurricanes, who remain the only unbeaten team. ACT Brumbies are two points behind and can go top if they beat the defending champion Waratahs in their Australian derby on Sunday to end the round.
Chiefs hooker Elliot rammed his shoulder into the back of prop Tendai Mtawarira’s head to be sent off. Sharks captain Du Plessis lashed out with his boot to also earn a red card, with referee Angus Gardner using television official Marius Jonker to make both decisions. Gardner ignored Jonker’s recommendation of just a yellow card for Steyn to produce a third red after the former Springbok upended All Black Cruden and drove him head-first into the turf.
In the lashing rain, and with 13 men against the Chiefs’ 14, the Sharks relied on Lambie’s boot from then on.
Cruden missed a late second-half penalty and a dropped goal in front of the posts, either of which would have given the Chiefs two wins from two on their South African tour.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders blew away the visiting Cheetahs with try after try in the second half, and all after trailing 14-10 at halftime to breakaway scores by centers Francois Venter and Johann Sadie.
New Zealand test star Daniel Carter scored a pair of tries, as did flanker Jordan Taufua, after the Crusaders took a little time to find their groove. When they did, the Cheetahs resistance melted away under the onslaught.
Carter, playing at No. 12, also kicked seven conversions and a penalty for 27 points overall. The ruthless Crusaders scored 47 unanswered points in the second half and moved into the playoff places.
In Pretoria, towering lock Adam Coleman was an early hero for the Perth-based Force with its first try, galloping away through a gap to go over between the posts. He ended a villain, though, as one of two Force players to be yellow-carded in the second, and then the man who gave away a decisive late penalty with a tip tackle on Pollard.
Pollard got up and banged over the match-winning kick for the Bulls with less than a minute to go.
Crusaders 57 (Daniel Carter 2, Jordan Taufua 2, Israel Dagg, David Havili, Nemani Nadolo tries; penalty try; Carter 7 conversions, penalty), Cheetahs 14 (Johann Sadie, Francois Venter tries; Joe Pietersen 2 conversions). HT: 10-14.
Bulls 25 (Marcel van der Merwe try; Handre Pollard conversion, 6 penalties), Western Force 24 (Adam Coleman, Sam Wykes, Kyle Godwin tries; Sias Ebersohn 2 conversions, penalty, Luke Burton conversion). HT: 9-7.
Sharks 12 (Pat Lambie 4 penalties), Chiefs 11 (Sam Cane try; Aaron Cruden 2 penalties). HT: 9-11.