Home Sport Metronomic Masuku stars as Sharks reach Challenge Cup final in stunning comeback

Metronomic Masuku stars as Sharks reach Challenge Cup final in stunning comeback

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Siya Masuku relentlessly punished Clermont indiscipline, landing six straight penalties in the first half, most from long range.

Siya Masuku of Hollywoodbets Sharks was deadly accurate with the boot on Saturday. File Picture: Steve Haag Sports, INPHO, Shutterstock (14412455ar)

The Sharks became the first South African team to reach the final of a traditionally European club competition as they fought back to beat Clermont 32-31 in the Challenge Cup in London on Saturday.

The Sharks, hosting the game more than 9,000 kilometres away from their Durban home, struggled to contain French club Clermont in the first half.

Winger Joris Jurand outflanked the Sharks on left to touchdown twice in the first 19 minutes then Australian fullback Alex Newsome sidestepped through a gap on the other wing for a try after 29 minutes at the Stoop in Twickenham, home to Harlequins.

In the first half, Anthony Belleau kicked penalties and landed two of his three conversions for Clermont, a three-times winner of the competition.

The Sharks even with seven Springbok World-Cup winners in their starting line-up barely crossed the halfway line in the first 40 minutes, but trailed only 28-18 at the break. Siya Masuku relentlessly punished Clermont indiscipline, landing six straight penalties, most from long range.

Belleau added a 48th-minute penalty, but momentum had begun to shift before Clermont scrum half Bautista Delguy earned a 58th-minute yellow card for a knock on.

Vincent Koch burrowed over for a try that Masuku converted to close the gap to six points.

Immediately, Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi earned a yellow for obstructing Jurand who was chasing a kick ahead.

Referee Luke Pearce discussed a penalty try with his assistants but opted to give only a kick at goal, which Belleau missed.

With 10 minutes left, Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi broke through to touch down. Masuku completed his perfect afternoon with the boot by converting from wide on the left to put the Sharks one point ahead.

AFP

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