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Sharks Make History As They win Challenge Cup

  • May 24, 2024
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Sharks Make History As They win Challenge Cup

The Hollywoodbets Sharks etched their names in history, defeating Gloucester 36-22 to capture the Challenge Cup trophy at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Friday night. The victory marks the first time a South African side has lifted the European Cup on European soil and the Sharks’ first major trophy in their history.

Fly-half Siya Masuku, impressive with his boot, was a rockstar, converting eight out of nine kicks for the win. Though struggling in the United Rugby Championship, the Sharks found their winning form in the Challenge Cup.

The first half saw Phepsi Buthelezi, a rising star from KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, score the opening try. Aphelele Fassi, despite an early yellow card, added a second try in the second half, along with Springbok World Cup winner Makazole Mapimpi.

With captain Lukhanyo Am sidelined by injury, Eben Etzebeth captained the Sharks at the iconic London venue. This win also secures their qualification for the prestigious Investec Champions Cup next season.

Gloucester mirrored Clermont’s tactics, applying intense pressure on the Sharks’ defense early. Fassi even received a yellow card in the seventh minute, further straining the already stressed defense. However, the Sharks, led by a superb performance from prop Ox Nche in the scrums, defended valiantly.

Masuku eased the pressure with the first penalty in the 15th minute. From then on, the Sharks transformed. They dominated the scrums, with Nche at the forefront. Masuku added three more penalties and a conversion from Buthelezi’s try, giving them a commanding 16-3 lead at halftime.

Gloucester responded by replacing their entire front row for the second half, a testament to the Sharks’ dominance. The momentum remained with the Sharks as Masuku added two more penalties. Mapimpi nearly scored the second try, but the Sharks recycled possession and Fassi capitalized on the space for a try in the 55th minute.

Facing a 29-3 deficit, Gloucester showed some fight with a try from Albert Tuisue, converted by Adam Hastings. However, Masuku’s exquisite pass found an unmarked Mapimpi for the third try, effectively extinguishing Gloucester’s hopes.

Gloucester managed two late tries from Santiago Socino and Freddie Clarke, but the Sharks’ defense held strong, securing their historic victory in the EPC Challenge Cup.

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Robin-Duke Madlala

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