Sharks vs Harlequins Lukhanyo Am Champions Cup

Sharks star Lukhanyo Am attempts to reel in a Harlequins player. Photo: Quins.

Sharks go down despite Springbok stars’ best efforts

Five Boks score for Sharks as they secure a crucial bonus point despite losing 39-29 to Harlequins in the Champions Cup on Saturday.

Sharks vs Harlequins Lukhanyo Am Champions Cup

Sharks star Lukhanyo Am attempts to reel in a Harlequins player. Photo: Quins.

Five Springboks scored for the Sharks as they secured a crucial bonus point despite losing 39-29 to Harlequins in the Champions Cup on Saturday.

The result sees Harlquins qualify for the round of 16 knockout phase, while the losing bonus-point might help the already qualified Sharks in their quest for a home Champions Cup playoff game.

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Result notwithstanding, the performance of the Springboks in the Sharks’ ranks will be particularly pleasing for Neil Powell as they head into back-end of the season and even more so for national coach Jacques Nienaber in this all-important World Cup year.

Eben Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am and Jaden Hendrikse were excellent throughout the game, while fringe Springboks Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi also made massive contributions to the Sharks’ cause.

In a breathless, action packed first half-time, Quins and the Sharks went toe to toe with nothing but a singe conversion separating them at the break.

The Sharks made a ponderous start to the game when Fassi chipped the ball forward and it bounced kindly for Thaakir Abrahams, who freed up Am on his inside to cruise over for the opening try inside two minutes.

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It didn’t take long for Harlequins to respond, the hosts hitting back with two quick-fire tries in as many minutes. The second came after a typically huge carry from former Sharks man Andre Esterhuizen and some lovely Marcus Smith which allowed Alex Dombrandt to dot down.

It was all Harlequins at that point, but when the Sharks won a scrum penalty, Bosch stepped up and turned the opportunity into three points. That, though, didn’t stop Harlequins from bossing things as they crossed for a third converted try to make it 21-8.

At the risk of becoming a non-factor in the contest, the Sharks’ big names players rose to the occasion. Springboks Hendrikse and Etzebeth crashed over the line and Bosch added the extras to make it a two-point game heading into the break.

Etzebeth, in particular, showed his experience when Joe Marler lost his bind at the back of a ruck and the Sharks and Springbok lock snuck round the side to snatch the ball and cruise over unchallenged from 25 metres out.

Follow Champions Cup: Harlequins vs Sharks LIVE scores

The second half was played at a few paces slower than the first, but it wasn’t any less fascinating.

Although Harlequins dominated the second stanza, the Sharks also contributed to make the game a great spectacle.

A second South African and former Shark, Stephan Lewies bagged Quins’ fourth try and they soon added a fifth to take the game away from the Sharks.

Needing one more five-point to clinch the bonus-point, the Sharks were propelled forward by their big runners making ground before Fassi exhibited some fancy footwork and power to finish in the corner at the death.

Harlequins — Tries: Danny Care, Alex Dombrandt, Cadan Marley, Stephan Lewis, Nick David. Conversions: Marcus Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (2).
Sharks — Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Jaden Hendrikse, Eben Etzebeth, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty: Bosch.


Harlequins — 15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Dino Lamb, 5 Irne Herbst, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 George Head, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tom Lawday, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Oscar Beard.

Sharks — 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Francois Vente.

Harlequins vs Sharks Champions Cup full-time graphic
Harlequins vs Sharks Champions Cup full-time graphic.