Match Centre: Sharks 39-31 Harlequins

Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries for Sharks
Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries for Sharks
©Steve Haag

Sharks 39-31 Harlequins, Hollywoodbets Kings Park

Sharks successfully managed to overcome Harlequins as they sealed a 39-31 victory in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.

This is also the first time a South African club has involved in the competition and have a straightaway tasted success despite a red card to Ox Nche.

Harlequins made a promising start as Josh Bassett touched down after collecting a long pass following a driving maul and Tommy Allan kicked the conversion to make it 0-7. The scores were levelled shortly as Bongo Mbonambi crash over from the back of the maul to crossover and Curwin Bosch improved it.

Sharks went into the lead for the first time as lock Dino Lamb was penalised for infringing at the breakdown and Bosch landed a three-pointer to make it 10-7 before Makazole Mapimpi showed his expertise with back to back tries in the 19th and 26th minutes to extend their lead to 22-7.

With the break approaching, the Quins managed to narrow down the gap as Will Evans went over in a maul and Allan kicked the extras as the teams completed the opening half with a 22-14 scoreline.

The South African club had a better start to the second half as Wener Kok showed greater speed to collect his own kick and dotted down and Bosch, who kicked the conversion failed to slot a three-pointer in the 54th minute as the scoreline became 29-14.

Sharks suffered back to back setbacks as Mbonambi was sin-binned in the 57th minute for repeated infringements at the breakdown and two minutes later Nché was sent-off for making contact with Jack Walker’s head. A penalty from Bosch in the 62nd minute extended Sharks' lead to 32-14.

With the numerical advantage on their side, Harlequins turned things around with Andre Esterhuizen scoring brace of tries in the 64th and 68th minutes that trimmed the gap down to six points before he sent a wide pass for Bassett to crossover but William Edwards missed out on the conversion as the visitors were trailing by one point.

Just as Quins looked like they were going to complete an unlikely comeback, Chamberlain crossed for the hosts and Bosch kicked the conversion to complete a thrilling win.

Team line up:

Cell C Sharks: Chamberlain; Kok, Venter, Tapuai, Mapimpi; Bosch, Hendrikse; Nche, Mbonambi, Sadie, Etzebeth, Grobler, Kolisi (c), Tshituka, Buthelezi.

Reserves: Jooste, N Mchunu, K Mcunhu, Andrews, Notshe, Williams, Cronhe, Van Rensburg

Harlequins: David; Murley, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Bassett; Allan, Care; Marler, Walker, Louw, Lamb, Herbst, Kenningham, Evans, Dombrandt (c)

Reserves: Head, Baxter, Kerrod, Hammond, Lawday, Gjaltema, Beard, Edwards


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table