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Sharks book their place at Europe's top table

MATCH REPORT: The Sharks became the first South African team to win a major European competition when they convincingly beat Gloucester 36-22 in the Challenge Cup Final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday.


Not only was it the Sharks’ first win in an international Final – having lost in four Super Rugby finals – but it secured them a spot at Europe’s top table next season.

Having qualified for the Champions Cup, it now means only seven places remain for United Rugby Championship teams.

The Sharks used their Springbok-laded pack to subdue a Gloucester team that can only reflect on their season of horrors.

Even though Gloucester won one scrum penalty in the second half, the Sharks demolished the English team in that aspect of the game and from such a dominant set piece they could kick several penalties to put scoreboard pressure on their opponent.

Gloucester showed flashes of promise, but other than two consolation tries never genuinely threatened the Sharks.

* To recap all the dramas, CLICK HERE!

(Continue below …)

The Sharks struggled with their discipline early on – Aphelele Fassi tackled an opponent in the air and Makazole Mapimpi pinged for a high tackle.


In the seventh minute, Fassi was sin-binned for an accumulation of penalties and the referee ran out of patience with the South African team.

However, a couple of scrum penalties not only allowed the Sharks to clear their lines, but Siya Masuku opened the scoring after a scrum penalty in the 15th minute.

Santi Carreras was wide of the mark with a penalty in the 21st minute, before Caolan Englefield slotted one from inside his half two minutes later – 3-all.

No.8 Phepsi Buthelezi shrugged off four potential defenders to charge over in the 26th minute. Masuku added the conversion – 10-3 for the Sharks.


On the half-hour mark, Masuku made it a 10-point (13-3) lead with his second penalty, followed by a third (16-3) after a fifth scrum penalty and a warning from the referee for the misfiring Gloucester scrum.

That is how it stayed till half-time.

At the start of the second half – with the replacement front row of Santi Socino, Mayco Vivas and Kirill Gotovtsev on – Gloucester suddenly won a scrum penalty.

However, as was the case in the first half, the English team simply was not clinical enough when they got into Sharks territory.

And the next scrum became a penalty for the Sharks – Masuku adding three more points for his team – 19-3.

The Sharks moved clear on the scoreboard, 22-3, with a fifth Masuku penalty.

Fassi then finished off a sublime team try – where forwards and backs interplayed in a show of dominance. Masuku made it 29-3 after 55 minutes.

Gloucester finally found some momentum and replacement Albert Tuisue went over from a powerful maul. Adam Hastings added the conversion to give the Cherry and Whites a glimmer of hope at 10-29.

The game was put to bed when Makazole Mapimpi scored from a sublime crossfield kick by Masuku. The flyhalf restored the 26-point (36-10) lead with the conversion.

Stephen Varney had a potential try struck from the scoreboard for offside, but Santi Socino and Freddie Clarke scored late consolation tries. Hastings converted one of those – 22-36 at the final whistle.

The scorers

For Gloucester
Tries: Tuisue, Socino, Clarke
Cons: Hastings 2
Pen: Englefield

For the Sharks
Tries: Buthelezi, Fassi, Mapimpi
Cons: Masuku 3
Pens: Masuku 5

Yellow card: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks, 7 – repeated offences, offside)


Gloucester: 15 Santi Carreras, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Caolan Englefield, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Arthur Clark, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Seb Blake, 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Santi Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Kirill Gotovtsev, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Josh Hathaway.

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Ethan Hooker, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Lappies Labuschagne, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Eduan Keyter.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)



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