Saturday, April 01, 2023

PA Sport Staff

The Sharks made history as the first South African team to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup as their forward power inspired a 50-35 win over Munster.

The Irish side were unable to compete at the breakdown, gave away far too many penalties and earned only three penalties of their own in the entire match.

The visitors did score five tries, but they were blown away by a four-try burst in the 18 minutes after half-time as the home side ran in seven of their own.

The heat and humidity would have been strange for Munster in this first Champions Cup knockout game on South African soil. The selection talking points were around the half-backs, with Craig Casey and Jack Crowley getting the nod for the visitors.

When Munster did get the ball from a turnover they showed they had clearly studied the Sharks blitz defence, using depth to get the ball wide and put wing Shane Daly in loads of space.

He still had a bit to do to beat the covering defence but got over for the try, with Crowley adding the conversion.

The Sharks had the advantage in terms of power at the breakdown and scrum and turned that into points as wing Makazole Mapimpi made a half-break and put scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse through for the try. Curwin Bosch converted.

Hendrikse was injured in the act of scoring, but there was no change in the home side’s forward power and the penalties that brought. Pressure on the line was eventually finished off from short range by lock Eben Etzebeth, Bosch again converting.

Munster wings Calvin Nash and Daly were able to find space, but Munster’s response eventually came from short range through the forwards, with prop Dave Kilcoyne burrowing his way over. Crowley converted to bring his side within three points at half-time.

The Sharks lost Etzebeth at the break in a big blow for the hosts, but the home forwards showed their undiminished power from a lineout near the Munster line, with hooker Bongi Mbonambi breaking away to go over. Bosch added the conversion.

More penalties put the Sharks in position for a repeat just a few minutes later and once again Mbonanbi finished off, this time with greater ease.

Werner Kok was the next to touch down before loose ball from a Munster attack was picked up by Bosch and his 50-yard run to the line made it four tries in 18 minutes after half-time.

Munster did hit back through a lineout drive of their own, replacement hooker Diarmuid Barron going over, but another loose pass gave Mapimpi another 50-yard run to the line to seal the result.

Full-back Mike Haley sliced through the defence for another Munster try, but it was the Sharks’ day in the heat of Durban.

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

More National Sport

Andre Marriner retires from refereeing