The Sharks hit back through Bongi Mbonambi 11 minutes in, who controlled at the back of a mall drive down the right before flyhalf Bosch slotted a brilliant touchline conversion. Mapimpi then got the home side’s second score with a well-worked solo effort when he beat three defenders to touch down at the base of the posts. Newsletter Rucking with Rob Resident rugby writer Rob Houwing gives you his expert views on what's going on between the poles. Sign up Then in the 27th minute, Jaden Hendrikse and Mapimpi combined for the wing to score his second after the halfback tricked the Harlequins close defence with a back-of-the-hand flick from a scrum. It wasn’t even half-an-hour in but the Sharks were already looking better than they did in all their matches at home against Cardiff and the Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship.
13-man Sharks beat Harlequins in enthralling, controversial Champions Cup opener | SportMakazole Mapimpi. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images) South Africa’s historic first game as European Champions Cup participants had all the ingredients of refereeing drama, thrilling finishes and spectacular tries that rugby lovers enjoy as the Sharks beat Harlequins 39-31 at Kings Park on Saturday. Three players got doubles: Makazole Mapimpi, Andre Esterhuizen and Josh Bassett.
Both sides scored five tries each. And officiating controversy would not be left behind after the Sharks lost Ox Nche to a red card with more than 20 minutes to play. AS IT HAPPENED | Champions Cup: Sharks v HarlequinsBut the Sharks, ala the Springboks against England at Twickenham in November, held on with, firstly with 13 players and eventually with a man short at the death to claim victory. When Harlequins left wing Bassett scored early in the match, the subdued Kings Park crowd would have been forgiven for thinking their team would serve the same stale dish of the previous two games. But there was a distinct increase in intensity, especially from the Sharks’ key players, their Springboks Nche and Curwin Bosch leading the charge. The big guns’ return – Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth – also added grunt where they lacked in previous encounters.
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