Durban once again showed off the worst side of South African spectators, after beer-drinking louts pelted Chiefs flyhalf Stephen Donald with missiles to show their displeasure in the outcome of the match in which the Sharks lost 18-19 to a last-minute penalty.
The disgraceful sight of Sharks fans throwing missiles at Donald on two occasions – once while lining up a conversion attempt and then also during the last-minute penalty that earned the visitors a dramatic one-point win – reminded of another forgetful moment.
Back in 2002 spectator Piet van Zyl ran onto the field in a state of inebriation and tackled Irish referee Dave McHugh to the ground in a Test between the Springboks and All Blacks. The incident sparked an international outcry and landed Van Zyl in court.
Just like McHugh all those years ago, New Zealand referee Keith Brown – who awarded the Chiefs, last year’s Super 14 finalists, 16 penalties to the Sharks’ eight – earned himself the ire of local spectators in a display that saw Springbok and Sharks captain John Smit repeatedly question his calls.
While the Sharks, and their vocal fans, showed their disapproval with numerous of the rulings of the Kiwi match official, Brown, the Chiefs flyhalf seemed unperturbed by the flying missiles.
Donald kept his cool to slot two crucial kicks, the conversion 10 metres in from touch and the penalty in the dying second to seal the victory for the team from Hamilton.
“It’s the first time things have gone a little bit pear-shaped for me so far as kicking and the crowd starting to lose the plot,” Donald told NZPA.
“It [a beer jug] got close, but I had a pretty big tee boy in [teammate] Sione Lauaki so I felt pretty safe.”
Donald said he suspected the alcohol-laden missile wasn’t intended for him.
“I don’t know what their problem was. I think it was supposed to hit the referee more than me.”
The Sharks bounced straight back with a penalty goal to reclaim the lead, after Donald converted the try, but the Chiefs had the final say in a roller-coaster finish by slotting a winning penalty goal from an easier position after the hooter.
“It’s what you do the hard yards for, you sort of live for those moments,” he said.
“I didn’t kick well early so it was good to come back and put a couple of key ones over for the boys.
“We haven’t tasted success in round one for about six years so we’re very proud of today.”
The Chiefs were missing fullback Mils Muliaina – who is missing the first three weeks to rest after a demanding 2009 – and his stand-in captain Lauaki, the latter through injury, while wing Dwayne Sweeney went down with a fever before the match and was replaced in impressive style by Counties Manukau fullback Tim Nanai-Williams in the unfamiliar No.14 jersey.
Inside centre Callum Bruce and wing Lelia Masaga were also unavailable with injury.
“It’s one we’re pretty proud of. Sharks at home is a tough prospect if you came here at full strength. There are a few guys at home and a few guys in their hotel rooms because they’re crook in their beds,” Donald said.
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet