Edinburgh Rugby morale takes big dent as Sean Everitt's men bitten by Sharks

Play-off hopes remain alive but head coach admits defeat was sore to take

Edinburgh remain in the frame to secure a play-off spot in the URC but head coach Sean Everitt admitted this defeat in South Africa was a blow to morale.

Full-back Aphelele Fassi was the star of the afternoon for Sharks, who moved off the foot of the table with this 23-13 victory. After running in a dazzling solo try that was one of several eye-catching breaks, Fassi also pinned back the visitors with his pinpoint left boot. Edinburgh, in contrast, struggled to leave any meaningful mark on the South African province beyond two Ben Healy penalties and an overtime touch down from Boan Venter.

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“I’m very disappointed in the loss,” said Everitt afterwards. “I thought the guys put in a lot of effort on the field but to win you’ve got to have territory and we didn’t win that battle.”

The Sharks pounce on Edinburgh's Ewan Ashman as he tries to break.The Sharks pounce on Edinburgh's Ewan Ashman as he tries to break.
The Sharks pounce on Edinburgh's Ewan Ashman as he tries to break.

The opening quarter produced contrasting styles as the Sharks made inroads through their pack while Edinburgh's livelier moments came when their backs attacked the outside channels. But it was Fassi who delivered a moment of magic in the 21st minute to turn the early balance on its head as he took a line-out and sprinted through a large gap in the opposition forwards. The Springbok's footwork and pace then swept him around fly-half Healy and beyond a despairing tackle by Duhan van der Merwe to score.

Edinburgh were in full survival mode as the Sharks used their pack to batter away at the whitewash and on three occasions committed defence held them up over the line. Van der Merwe launched a high-speed counter-attack that was the prelude to a penalty from Healy and despite being under pressure for most of the first half, the visitors were only 7-3 down at the interval.

Fassi's fine afternoon continued by providing the final pass for Lukhanyo Am to touch down in the right corner. A 50-22 was his next intervention and when Siya Masuku hit back to back penalties, the Sharks could breath more easily with No 8 Phepsi Buthelezi and Venter exchanging late tries. It meant two defeats from two on Edinburgh’s trip to South Africa, following on from last week’s 43-21 loss to Stormers.

“We worked so hard to put ourselves in a position to compete for the top four," added Everitt. “It’s about staying positive and understanding that we did face two good teams while we were away on this South Africa mini-tour. The guys are going to remain positive – I’ll make sure of that – we’ve just got to keep working at what’s letting us down.”



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