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Donald saves Chiefs with last act

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Sunday, February 14, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Rory Kockott had kicked all 18 points for the host, which looked to be heading for a win despite playing the closing stages with only 14 men after a yellow card for Bismarck du Plessis.

But Jackson Willison's try with three minutes to go and Donald's three-pointer after the final hooter, which took his own match tally to 14, enabled last year's runner-up to gain a precious win.

It was all about kicking for territory during the early stages with the sweeping east coast rain clearly affecting the normal game of both sides.

The Chiefs had a good chance to get on the board after 11 minutes when Stefan Terblanche was penalised for cleaning up halfback Brendon Leonard at the ruck, but Donald put his penalty wide.

However, the New Zealand first five-eighths made no mistake with his second attempt from straight in front.

Kockott responded with back-to-back penalties to put the host in front - the first an excellent in-curling effort from the right touchline - before captain John Smit was sent to the sin-bin after a yellow card for going over the top following an earlier warning.


Donald put the resulting penalty over, but the visitors failed to capitalise on their 15-14 man advantage with their No.10 squandering a straightforward kick on the half-hour mark.

That miss saw the teams going into the half-time break level at 6-6.

The rain seemed to slow down during the interval and straight from the restart, hooker Aled De Malmanche was penalised at a line-out allowing Kockott to put the Sharks back in the lead.

Ten minutes into the half, the visitors were twice denied tries with the goalline at their mercy - JP Pietersen defensively involved on both occasions, the first of which saw him somehow get the better of centre Richard Kahui one metre out.

Those near misses proved costly as Kockott then stretched the lead to nine points with two more penalties, but again the New Zealanders fought back - this time pressure from their forwards tempting Bismarck into illegal entry into a ruck with Donald bringing the gap back to six with another penalty.

The Springbok hooker put additional pressure on the hosts with seven minutes to play when an off-the-ball incident led to him being yellow-carded and that proved decisive.

Three minutes from the end Willison was sent on his way to score by replacement Junior Poluleuligaga - his finish close enough to the post to allow Donald to add the extras.

But there was still time for another couple of twist.

Kahui's late tackle on Ryan Kankowski gave Kockott another chance to score and he obliged to put the Sharks 18-16 up.

The host, however, was then caught off-side from the restart and Donald made no mistake with a simple penalty to snatch a valuable win.