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Edinburgh and Ulster out of Challenge Cup following quarter-final defeats

By PA
General views during the EPCR Challenge Cup, Quarter Final match between Cell C Sharks and Edinburgh at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on April 13, 2024 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Edinburgh exited the EPCR Challenge Cup after suffering a 36-30 quarter-final defeat against the Sharks in Durban.

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Despite leading narrowly at half-time, Edinburgh were ultimately undone by a Sharks team that put poor United Rugby Championship form to one side.

Prop Pierre Schoeman, flanker Hamish Watson and hooker Dave Cherry – in the game’s final play – scored Edinburgh’s tries, while fly-half Ben Healy kicked three penalties and three conversions.

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But Sharks’ superior firepower was underlined through touchdowns from centre Lukhanyo Am, flanker James Venter and hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

Fly-half Siya Masuku converted all three tries and kicked four penalties for an 18-point haul, while Curwin Bosch booted a late penalty as Sharks moved into a semi-final against Clermont Auvergne following their 53-14 victory over Ulster.

Fixture
Challenge Cup
Sharks
36 - 30
Full-time
Edinburgh
All Stats and Data

Healy kicked two early penalties for Edinburgh, but the Sharks hit back through an outstanding 17th-minute try when wing Makazole Mapimpi shredded the visiting defence before sending his fellow South African World Cup winner Am over to score.

Masuku added the conversion, and Edinburgh were undone again 10 minutes later by another high-class Sharks score.

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Mapimpi and full-back Aphelele Fassi were the architects, getting in behind Edinburgh’s defence, then possession worked its way to lock Eben Etzebeth and he found an unmarked Venter for the try.

Masuku converted, but Etzebeth was then yellow-carded by referee Matthew Carley for a lineout infringement and Edinburgh capitalised on their temporary one-player advantage when Schoeman crashed over from close range and Healy added the extras.

It was an impressive end to the first half by Edinburgh, and Healy completed his penalty hat-trick to secure a 16-14 interval advantage.

Two Masuku penalties shortly after the break put the Sharks back in front, and a dominant third quarter was underlined when Mbonambi broke clear from the back of a maul for a try that Masuku converted, and there was no way back for Edinburgh.

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Ulster saw their hopes of reaching the semi-finals crushed by Clermont at Stade Marcel-Michelin as the French heavyweights ran in seven tries.

Back-row forward Nick Timoney touched down twice for Ulster, with both scores converted by scrum-half John Cooney, but the visitors had no answer to Clermont’s pace and all-court game.

Fixture
Challenge Cup
Clermont
53 - 14
Full-time
Ulster
All Stats and Data

Number-eight Pita-Gus Sowakula scored two tries, as did flanker Peceli Yato, while Alex Newsome, Rob Simmons and Joris Jurand also breached the Ulster defence as Clermont romped home through 33 unanswered second-half points.

Fly-half Anthony Belleau kicked four conversions and two penalties, with Bautista Delguy and Sebastien Bezy each landing a conversion.

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Abe 3 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 7 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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