Sharks pull Edinburgh’s teeth

Henry

The Sharks could be the big spoilers in the rest of the season’s United Rugby Championship. The Sharks showed this on Saturday afternoon at Kingspark in Durban when they beat Edinburgh 23-13.

The Sharks’ victory is a nightmare for Edinburgh, who were beaten by the Stormers last week and did not earn a single bonus point on their two-match tour. If Edinburgh don’t win again soon, their dreams of finishing in the top eight could be over.

It was the Sharks’ second consecutive win in the series after they won last Saturday over Ulster.

The Sharks completely dominated on Saturday and should have won by much more, as well as achieved a bonus point for four tries. But the most important thing for their local fans is that they are back on the winning side, that confidence is now returning and winning momentum is being built up.

Let’s be honest, the Sharks are not yet the perfect product of their top teams of the past, but the performances of Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi, Werner Kok and Lukhayno Am (at the back), as well as the high performance of Ox Nche, Emile van Heerden and James Venter (in front) must have meant a lot to the coach, John Plumtree.

Fassi was high on the Springbok radar (and in the team) a few seasons ago, but his level of play declined due to a lack of self-confidence.

There were already signs of the upswing in his game against Ulster and he built on that on Saturday. He carried out several counter-attacks, his positional play was excellent and so were his long line kicks. In addition, he plucked quite a few balls out of the air.

There was also a bit of sourness for the Sharks when Eben Etzebeth injured his ribs and could not play on after the break. He was replaced by the young Corné Rahl, who stoked enough fire.

What did laugh loudly was how easily the Sharks gave up possession and how many loose balls Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson missed. But then one also has to remember that they are two of the best ball chasing flanks in European rugby.

Scorers: Sharks 23: Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Lukhanyo Am, Pepsi Buthelezi. Goal kick: Siya Masuku. Penalty goals: Masuku (2).

Edinburgh 13: Three: Boan Venter. Goal kick: Ben Healy. Penalty goals: Healy (2).