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Bok-laden Sharks bash Ulster into submission

MATCH REPORT: A full-strength Sharks made a big statement, recording their first-ever United Rugby Championship win over Ulster at Kings Park on Saturday.

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The bottom-of-table Sharks secured a bonus-point 22-12 win over Ulster in front of 16 538 supporters in Durban.

*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!

John Plumtree fielded a very strong side with a number of Springboks in the squad. Centre Lukhanyo Am, lock Eben Etzebeth, wing Makazole Mapimpi and hooker Bongi Mbonambi were in the starting line-up, while prop Ox Nche and Vincent Koch entered the field from the bench.

Tries from Phepsi Buthelezi, Eduan Keyter and Mbonambi ensured that the Sharks’ ended their five-game losing streak in the URC season.

Harry Sheridan and Kieran Treadwell claimed tries for Ulster, with John Cooney kicking one conversion.

Ulster failed to record a losing bonus point and remained on 34 log points.

The South Africans suffered an early blow. After just 80 seconds into the match, George Cronje was stretchered off the pitch with what appeared to be a bad knee injury.

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Cronje’s injury saw Buthelezi moved from flank to No.8, while Jeandre Labuschagne took a spot on the flank.

It took both teams time to settle after a lengthy stoppage but a scrappy opening quarter ended with Ulster going ahead.

Treadwell made initial headway, charging to within touching distance of the line, before Sheridan finished off and Cooney’s conversion opened up a seven-point lead.

The Sharks hit back almost immediately. From a loose ball, Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi punted it downfield with his teammate Ethan Hooker getting the better of Will Addison in the footrace. Hooker was unable to get hold of the ball, however, Buthelezi managed to latch onto it and dotted down for the score.

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Siya Masuku levelled matters with the conversion.

The try ignited the Sharks. On the brink of half-time, they had a perfect scoring opportunity thanks to their powerful scrums. However, a knock-on halted all their efforts and the teams headed into the break at 7-all.

Similar to the first half, the second half also started with an early injury blow. This time Ulster’s Billy Burns left the field with what looks like a shoulder injury.

The Sharks finally took the lead. Sharp inter-play between forwards and backs ended with Mapimpi putting a kick in behind Ulster’s defensive line and Keyter finished brilliantly, with Masuku’s conversion making it 14-7.

Momentum was clearly on the side of the hosts, especially with Koch making his Sharks debut from the bench.

Masuku extended the lead to ten points with a successful penalty.

Just short of the hour mark, Ulster got themselves back in the game. The Sharks did well to fend off Ulster, however, the ball rolled out of the ruck before Treadwell picked up the loose ball and scored the try. The TMO had to intervene, but after failing to find a conclusive angle to determine who punched the ball out of the ruck they awarded the try.

It was a very busy afternoon for the officials. After the high tackle from Iain Henderson on Koch, tempers flared and a scuffle unfolded.  Eventually, referee Ben Whitehouse restored order and sent Henderson, James Hume and Vincent Tshituka to the bin.

Sharks took full advantage of the extra man. Utilizing the driving maul, Springbok hooker Mbonambi crashed over the line to restore the 10-point lead.  Masuka missed the conversion but the Sharks did enough to secure the victory.

Man of the match: Pepsi Buthelezi, Eduan Keyter and Eben Etzebeth deserve a mention for their hard work. However, our nod goes to Sharks centre Enthan Hooker. He was the standout in the Sharks team. He showed class and his pace caused havoc. He also set up a crucial try for the Sharks.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: Buthelezi, Keyter, Mbonambi
Cons: Masuku 2
Pen: Masuku

For Ulster:
Tries: Sheridan, Treadwell
Con: Cooney

Yellow cards: Iain Henderson (Ulster, 64 – high tackle), James Hume (Ulster, 64 – Retaliation), Vincent Tshituka (Sharks, 64 – Retaliation)

Teams

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Eduan Keyter, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Ethan Hooker, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 George Cronje, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Francois Venter.

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Mike Lowry, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 David McCann, 6 Harry Sheridan, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Matty Rea, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Jude Postlethwaite, 23 Sean Reffell.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Colin Brett (Scotland)

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