Resurgent Sharks down Edinburgh to advance to Challenge Cup semifinals

Resurgent Sharks down Edinburgh to advance to Challenge Cup semifinals

The Sharks overcame a committed challenge from Edinburgh to record a 36-30 victory in Saturday's Challenge Cup quarterfinal in Durban.

It's been a disappointing season by the Sharks' high standards but their form has recently started to turn around, and Saturday's gritty win, which sees them reach the semifinals of a European competition for the first time, continued to underline that fact.

Edinburgh refused to lie down in the match and made a nuisance of themselves throughout, with prop Pierre Schoeman, flanker Hamish Watson and hooker Dave Cherry - in the game's final piece of action - scoring Edinburgh's tries, while flyhalf Ben Healy kicked three penalties and three conversions.

But the Sharks' superior firepower was underlined through touchdowns from centre Lukhanyo Am, flanker James Venter and hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

Flyhalf Siya Masuku converted all three tries and kicked four penalties for an 18-point haul, while Curwin Bosch booted a late penalty as the Sharks moved into a semi-final against Clermont Auvergne following their 53-14 victory over Ulster.

Healy kicked two early penalties for Edinburgh, but the Sharks hit back through an outstanding 17th-minute try when wing Makazole Mapimpi shredded the visiting defence before sending his fellow South African World Cup winner Am over to score.

Masuku added the conversion, and Edinburgh were undone again 10 minutes later by another high-class Sharks score.

Mapimpi and fullback Aphelele Fassi were the architects, getting in behind Edinburgh's defence, then possession worked its way to lock Eben Etzebeth and he found an unmarked Venter for the try.

Masuku converted, but Etzebeth was then yellow-carded by referee Matthew Carley for a lineout infringement and Edinburgh capitalised on their temporary one-player advantage when Schoeman crashed over from close range and Healy added the extras.

It was an impressive end to the first half by Edinburgh, and Healy completed his penalty hat-trick to secure a 16-14 interval advantage.

Two Masuku penalties shortly after the break put the Sharks back in front, and a dominant third quarter was underlined when Mbonambi broke clear from the back of a maul for a try that Masuku converted, and there was no way back for Edinburgh.

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