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Edinburgh acclimatise brilliantly to sink Sharks in South Africa

By PA
(Photo by Bruce White/SNS Group via Getty Images)

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Edinburgh became the first northern hemisphere team to win a URC game in South Africa this season as they sunk the Sharks 21-5. The match was played in torrential rain in Durban – accompanied by more than 80 per cent humidity and a temperature of 23 degrees – yet Edinburgh acclimatised brilliantly.

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They underlined their playoff credentials in style, claiming a memorable win against South Africa’s form team as their Scotland international fly-half Blair Kinghorn scored two tries. Full-back Emiliano Boffelli also claimed a try and added three conversions in an outstanding display by Mike Blair’s men.

The Sharks replied with a touch down from prop Thomas du Toit, but fly-half Curwin Bosch missed three kicks at goal that would have kept his team in contention. Bosch missed an early chance when he drifted an angled penalty wide as both sides tried to adapt in testing conditions underfoot.

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The Sharks exerted early pressure, but they had centre Marius Louw yellow-carded by Italian referee Andrea Piardi after he tackled Kinghorn in the air. And with Louw still off, Edinburgh pounced for an outstanding try as skipper Mark Bennett made a high-class break inside the Sharks’ 22, allowing Kinghorn to cross unopposed.

Boffelli’s conversion made it 7-0, but the Sharks’ forward power soon surfaced, especially in the scrums, where their front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Du Toit established supremacy. It was backs to the wall at times for Edinburgh, yet their cause was helped when Bosch failed to find the target with a penalty chance from in front of the posts.

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Edinburgh ended a stamina-sapping first 40 URC minutes by losing lock Pierce Phillips to the sin-bin, paying the price for repeated team infringements. But the visitors held on, absorbing further Sharks pressure as they took a seven-point lead into the interval. The Sharks looked to make an immediate second-half impact, and they should have collected an equalising try, but Nche knocked on with the Edinburgh line at his mercy.

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Four minutes later, though, they finally breached Edinburgh’s defence, and it came after more heavy-duty work from their forwards, with Du Toit touching down. Bosch could not convert, with Edinburgh then taking play back into the Sharks’ half through number eight Ben Muncaster’s powerful charge, and Boffelli crossed for another impressive try before adding the extras.

It proved the game’s decisive score, with the Sharks unable to find a way back into the contest as Kinghorn’s late opportunist effort sealed the deal.

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