Sharks stun Gloucester to be crowned Challenge Cup champions

24 May 2024 - 23:00
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
 Phepsi Buthelezi of the Sharks celebrates scoring his team's first try during the Challenge Cup final against Gloucester at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Image: Paul Harding/Getty Images Phepsi Buthelezi of the Sharks celebrates scoring his team's first try during the Challenge Cup final against Gloucester at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

The Sharks produced a spirited performance to beat Gloucester 36-22 during their exciting Challenge Cup final played at the Tottenham Stadium in London on Friday night.

With this hard fought victory, where both teams scored three tries apiece, the Sharks became the first South African side to win this competition and they have secured a place in the Champions Cup next season. 

In front of a hostile crowd, the Sharks dominated the first half and they scored their first try through Phepsi Buthelezi after 25 minutes despite the fact that they were a man down after Aphelele Fassi got an early yellow card to the sin-bin. 

The Sharks, who had Springbok players like  Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi, went to the break with a 16-3 lead largely because of exceptional kicking by flyhalf Siya Masuku. 

The Sharks increased their tempo in the second half with two more tries by Fassi, who made amends for his earlier sin-bin, and Makazole Mapimpi as they took control of the match.

The other major contributor to the Sharks scoreboard was emerging and mercurial kicker Masuku who ended his well executed shift with 21 points from five penalties and three conversions.

By the 57th minute, Gloucester only scored ten points from a try by Albert Tuisue, penalty by Caolan Englefield and a conversion from Adam Hastings as they struggled to deal with the physicality of the Sharks.

They launched a spirited fightback with tries from Santiago Socino and Freddie Clarke but it was not enough as the Sharks had already done the job on the night to be crowned champions and make up for their poor run in the United Rugby Championship (URC).