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Sharks continue to climb

MATCH REPORT: The Sharks continued their climb away from the United Rugby Championship basement, with a 23-13 win over Edinburgh at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

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The three tries to one victory was only their third triumph and the first timer they have go back-to-back in the ‘W’ column.

The scoreline does not reflect the Sharks’ dominance and there will also be concern over the rib injury that resulted in Springbok Eben Etzebeth unable to come out for the second half.

There was also a late change to the Sharks team – which saw Ntuthuko Mchunu move into the starting 15, with Khwezi Mona on the bench. World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch was ruled out with a ‘tummy bug’.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

It was helter-skelter in the opening stages, with quite a few errors preventing any early momentum.

In the 16th minute Siya Masuku had the first real scoring opportunity, but pushed his penalty kick yo the right of the uprights.

The game eventually came alive in the 22nd minute -0 launching a counter from inside his own half and cutting through the Edinburgh defence like a proverbial hot knife through butter. Masuku added the conversion – 7-0

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The Sharks, piling on the pressure, pinned Edinburgh deep inside their half – the visitors making nearly double the number of tackles their hosts did in the first half.

Territory also favoured the Sharks by 75 percent.

Just past the half-hour mark Ox Nche was held up over the line, the second time the Sharks had been denied a try in this fashion.

Edinburgh’s first real chance came through a Duhan van der Merwe breakout and resulted in a penalty inside the Sharks 22 – Ben Healy opening his team’s account 3-7.

World Cup-winning Springbok Eben Etzebeth, who was struggling with a rib injury late in the first half, did not come out after the break – replaced by young Corne Rahl.

The Sharks continued to dominate territory and possession, with star fullback Aphelele Fassi eventually putting captain Lukhanyo Am over for the second try. Masuku was wide with the conversion attempt – 12-3 after 50 minutes.

Masuku also hooker a penalty kick past the left upright, but the Sharks were still the team in command.

As the game approached the hour mark, Edinburgh finally had some possession inside the Sharks 22, winning a tackle penalty – Healy narrowing the gap to six points, 6-12,

Just past the hour mark Jamie Ritchie was penalised at the breakdown and Masuku made it a nine-point game – 15-6.

Another penalty allowed Masuku to give his team the breathing space they required – 18-6.

It went from bad to worse for the visitors – two penalties for deliberate knock-ons, the second resulting in a yellow card for replacement Charlie Shiel.

Three minutes from time Phepsi Buthelezi went over in the right corner, the match over as a contest and the Sharks chasing a four-try bonus point.

However, it was Boan Venter who drove over from close range for Edinburgh’s first try.

Healy slotted the conversion – making the final score 23-13 in favour of the Sharks.

The scorers

For the Sharks
Tries: Fassi, Am, Buthelezi
Con: Masuku
Pens: Masuku 2

For Edinburgh
Try: Venter
Con: Healy
Pens: Healy 2

Yellow card: Charlie Shiel (Edinburgh, 75 – cynical foul, deliberate knock-on)

Teams:

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 James Venter, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Ethan Hooker.

Edinburgh: 15 Wes Goosen, 14 Jake Henry, 13 Matt Currie, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ben Vellacott (captain), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Cammy Scott, 23 James Lang.

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa) and Jonathan Lottering (South Africa)
TMO: Marc Patton (Ireland)

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