Sharks 36-30 Edinburgh: South Africans dump Edinburgh out of Europe


Hamish Watson
Watson scored his 8th try in his 31st Challenge Cup appearance
Sharks: (14) 36
Tries: Am, J Venter, Mbonambi Pens: Masuku 4, Bosch; Cons: Masuku 3
Edinburgh: (16) 30
Tries: Schoeman, Watson, Cherry; Pens: Healy 3; Cons: Healy 3;

Edinburgh’s revenge mission to South Africa ended in defeat as the Sharks dumped the Scots out of the European Challenge Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Only two weeks after travelling to Durban in URC action, Edinburgh returned to the Southern Hemisphere in search of a first European semi-final since 2015.

But despite leading at the break, Sean Everitt’s side let their grasp on the game slip as they allowed the Sharks back in with penalty after penalty.

Even two late tries couldn’t reduce the gap sufficiently, and it is now the Sharks who will face Clermont Auvergne in the semi-finals.

Both sides struggled with their discipline throughout, but it was the penalty count in the second-half that allowed the Sharks to pull away from their opposition.

Edinburgh began the scoring in the fifth minute, with Ben Healy nudging over the first of three penalties from the tee. He got his second 10 minutes later, sandwiching a missed penalty from Siya Masuku – one he missed from 10 yards out, almost in front of the sticks.

The Sharks fly-half would not make another such mistake, turning lethal from the tee in the second half as he kicked four penalties and a conversion, and was subsequently named player of the match.

After Edinburgh had gone 6-0 up, the Sharks responded quickly when Makazole Mapimpi chipped over the top and fielded his own kick, handing the ball inside to fellow Springbok star Lukhanyo Am to canter home.

Ewan Ashman did then cross the line for Edinburgh, but his dive over the whitewash was held up and the Sharks punished Edinburgh by scoring three minutes later when Eben Etzebeth fed an unmarked James Venter out wide to score.

However, the first half ended with Edinburgh in the ascendancy as Etzebeth was sin-binned for persistent infringements, and Pierre Schoeman dummied from the base of a ruck to spin over the line. Healy added the conversion, and then another penalty, to give the visitors a two-point lead at the break.

They wouldn’t score another point until the 74th minute. In that time, the Sharks put 19 unanswered points on them – a gap to big for Edinburgh to bridge.

Two penalties gave the Sharks a four-point advantage while Edinburgh still appeared to be in the sheds, before Bongi Mbonambi spotted a gap following a line-out maul, with the hooker swan-diving over to add insult to injury.

Another two unanswered penalties, and the game was all but lost. Hamish Watson went over from the back of a maul to give Edinburgh a glimmer of hope, which Curwin Bosch quickly snuffed out as he nudged over another penalty.

Dave Cherry crossed from another line-out maul with the clock in the red, to add a little more respect to the scoreline, but all that will be remembered is that the Sharks will go to the semis.

Line-ups

Sharks: Fassi, Kok, Am (c), Hooker, Mapimpi, Masuku, Hendrikse; Nche, Mbonambi, Koch, Etzebeth, Van Heerden, J Venter, Tshituka, Buthelezi.

Replacements: Jooste, Mchunu, Jacobs, Rahl, Labuschagne, Williams, Bosch, F. Venter.

Sin bin: Etzebeth (31)

Edinburgh: Goosen, Henry, Bennett, Currie, van der Merwe, Healy, Vellacott (CC); Schoeman, Ashman, Nel, Skinner, Gilchrist (CC), Ritchie, Watson, Mata.

Replacements: Cherry, Venter, Rae, Hodgson, Crosbie, Price, Lang, Dean.

Match official

Referee: Matthew Carley (ENG)

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