Ox sees red as Sharks hold off Harlequins in dramatic fashion
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: The Sharks started their Champions Cup campaign with a thrilling 39-31 win over Harlequins in Durban on Saturday.
Both teams scored five tries in an encounter that looked like it was on course for a comfortable win for the home side.
After they had a 15-point lead heading into the final quarter, the game turned on its head for the Sharks after hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi received a yellow card in the 58th minute before prop Retshegofaditswe Nche received a red card two minutes later for a high shot.
After a Harlequins fightback, the score was 32-31 for the Sharks before Henry Chamberlain scored a late try to wrap things up.
It was Harlequins who opened the scoring after a series of line-outs deep in Sharks territory. After the rolling maul was thwarted on the right flank, Quins switched play the entire width of the field with Nick David finding Josh Bassett on the extreme left to touch down. Tommy Allan added the conversion
Sharks responded within the opening quarter of an hour with a powerful maul off the back of a line-out, Mbonambi dotting down in the corner. Curwin Bosch added the extras before kicking a long-range penalty to give the hosts a 10-7 lead.
Makazole Mapimpi added Sharks’ second try of the afternoon with a delightful solo run and finished under the posts, again Bosch competent with the conversion from the tee.
A wonderfully worked set piece saw Mapimpi dot down for a second time. Scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse backhanded the ball to the wing off the back of a scrum, Mapimpi untouched as he crossed the whitewash.
Harlequins responded with a late first-half try from flank Will Evans – he rumbled over off the back of a well worked rolling maul by the visitors, the score 22-14 at the interval.
The Sharks added to their lead ten minutes into the second period when Werner Kok lofted a ball over the Harlequins defensive line and dotted down in the corner himself.
The hosts then got themselves in card trouble with Mbonambi sent to the sin bin after persistent penalties and Nché sent off for a dangerous tackle.
That set the stage for Andre Esterhuizen, who notched two tries in five minutes to get Harlequins back into the contest. Just as Quins looked like they were going to complete an unlikely comeback, Chamberlain crossed for the hosts to end the tie as a contest in the final minute.
Sharks travel to France to take on Union Bordeaux-Begles in round two on Friday evening, while Harlequins play host to French opposition themselves when they welcome Racing 92 to Twickenham Stoop next Sunday.
Man of the match: Curwin Bosch had a strong start before he faded a bit in the second half. Jaden Hendrikse and a solid game in the No.9 jersey and he set up Makazole Mapampi’s second try with a neat flick pass. However, the award goes to Mapimpi for his two tries and a number of strong runs in the 80 minutes.
Tries: Mbonambi, Mapimpi 2, Kok, Chamberlain
Cons: Bosch 4
Pens: Bosch 2
Tries: Bassett 2, Evans, Esterhuizen 2
Cons: Allan 2, Edwards
Red card: Retshegofaditswe Nche (Sharks 60′ – foul play, high tackle)
Yellow card: Mbongeni Mbonambi (Sharks, 58′ – repeated infringements)
Sharks: 15 Henry Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Jack Kenningham, 5 Irne Herbst, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 George Head, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 George Hammond, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Oscar Beard, 23 Will Edwards.
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant referees: Pierre Brousset (France), Benoit Rousselet (France)
TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)
Additional source: @ChampionsCup