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Brave Sharks run out of steam in Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse

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Cape Town — The Sharks could not be faulted for effort but ultimately they were outclassed 54-20 in their Champions Cup quarter-final match against Toulouse in the Southwest of France on Saturday afternoon.

Nobody gave the Durbanites a chance because of the class of World Player of the Year Antoine Dupont’s team, but a massive factor was the home-ground advantage enjoyed by the French against a team that was on its seventh trip to Europe this season.

The Sharks probably found their economy-class seats a bridge too far to be competitive over the entire 80 and the French scored 28 points in the last 10 minutes.

It was 24-20 at half-time but the Sharks had nothing left in the tank by the third quarter which was when Toulouse turned on the taps.

The Sharks started strongly and a yellow card for a high tackle on Makazole Mapimpi in the 9th minute gave Curwin Bosch the opportunity to kick the first points of the match.

It took Toulouse 12 minutes to equalise, the points coming from the boot of fullback Thomas Ramos but the Sharks then exploded into life thanks to one of the better breaks Bosch has made for many a season. He feigned to kick deep in his half and when the defence had bought it he kept the ball and sprinted up the middle of the field and offloaded to the fleet-footed Grant Williams for a try under the crossbar.

Toulouse had a telling answer when they won a scrum penalty on the half-hour mark and Ramos made it 10-6. They would have scored shortly after had it not been for a brilliant cover tackle by Werner Kok, the effervescent winger who continues to set the standards for work ethic but they did score on halftime when Argentine wing Juan Cruz Mallía scored in the corner.

Ramos missed the conversion but from the restart, Hyron Andrews went offside and cost his team another three points for a 10-14 deficit at the break.

The home team had scored twice just before halftime and it was vital for the Sharks to arrest that momentum but Williams was penalised for diving into a ruck and from the pressure in the Sharks’ 22 it was not long before Antoine Dupont put Ramos in for a try.

The Sharks forwards should have scored after repeated assaults on the Toulouse line only for the referee to fail to sin bin the home forwards for cynical infringing but the Sharks backs fixed it via a fantastic wide pass by Lukhanyo Am to put fullback Boeta Chamberlain in for a sprint to the line.

Mallía replied with a second try that was scored in the corner despite a brave cover tackle by Bosch and there was disappointment for the Sharks when a try by Williams was disallowed because of a forward pass.

A Bosch penalty made it 26-20 with 20 minutes to go but the game got away from the Sharks when hooker Peato Mauvaka scored and then Dupont gifted Ramos a second try.

The final ignominy for the Sharks came when substitute Arthur Retiere scored to notch the score line towards 50 before flyhalf Romaine Ntamack made it so with the last action of the game.

Point-scorers

Toulouse 54 — Tries: Juan Cruz Mallía, Thomas Ramos (2), Peato Mauvaka, Arthur Retiere, Romain Ntamack. Penalties: Thomas Ramos (3). Conversions: Ramos (5).

Sharks 20 — Tries: Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain. Penalties: Curwin Bosch (2). Conversions: Bosch.

@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport

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