United Rugby Championship: Sharks 23-13 Edinburgh - Fassi stars for home side

Duhan van der Merwe playing for Edinburgh
Duhan van der Merwe returned to Edinburgh colours for the first time since the Six Nations [SNS]

United Rugby Championship

Sharks (7) 23

Try: Fassi, Am, Buthelezi Con: Masuku Pens: Masuku 2

Edinburgh (3) 13

Try: Venter Con: Healy Pens: Healy 2

Edinburgh suffered back-to-back defeats in South Africa as they were outmuscled by the star-studded Sharks in the United Rugby Championship.

Aphelele Fassi, the Sharks' star player this season, sliced through to open the scoring midway through the first half.

Fassi then set Lukhanyo Am clear to put the Sharks in control after the break.

Number eight Phepsi Buthelezi barged over to seal the Sharks' win, although there was time for replacement Boan Venter to burrow over for the visitors.

Sharks fly-half Siya Masuku had a poor day off the kicking tee but his conversion and two penalties helped ease the home side to a second consecutive victory - just their third of the URC campaign.

The Sharks beat Ulster last week and even with the late withdrawal of Vincent Koch still had Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Eben Etzebeth among their tight forwards and 11 Springboks in their side.

Yet they remarkably began the day bottom of the table with two wins from 12 matches after Dragons' win on Friday.

However they dominated the first half and Fassi's try - after a scintillating break from a clearance kick - was the least they deserved.

Duhan van der Merwe - recalled along with Pierre Schoeman, Ewan Ashman and Jamie Ritchie following their Six Nations efforts - made one of the few line breaks for the visitors in the half and from that burst Ben Healy kicked Edinburgh's only points of the first period.

Van der Merwe was brushed aside by Springbok centre Am for the Sharks' second try and although Healy kept Edinburgh in touch with another penalty, when Buthelezi crossed the game was gone.

Venter's close-range effort in the 80th minute - with Charlie Shiel yellow carded - gave the score a more flattering look and there was to be no repeat of the 2022 heroics, when Edinburgh became the first European team to win in the URC in South Africa.

It has been a chastening return to South Africa for head coach Sean Everitt, who spent 14 years with the Sharks in various coaching roles before stepping down as head coach in 2022, following the 43-21 defeat by Stormers at Cape Town Stadium last week.

Sharks, who have focused more on the European Challenge Cup and face Zebre in the last 16 next weekend while Edinburgh play Bayonne, move up to 13th in the URC table with the victory.

Edinburgh are on 34 points with the 11th-placed Ospreys on 30 and the top eight sides in the table qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Stormers play Ulster - the teams above and below Edinburgh - later on Saturday.

Sharks Fassi; Kok, Am, F Venter, Mapimpi; Masuka, Hendrikse; Nche, Mbonambi, Jacobs; Etzebeth, Van Heerden; Venter, Tshituka, Buthelezi

Replacements Jooste, Mchunu, Jacobs, Rahl, Labuschagne, Wright, Bosch, Hooker

Edinburgh Goosen; Henry, Currie, Dean, Van der Merwe; Healy, Vellacott; Schoeman, Ashman, Nel; Hodgson, Skinner; Ritchie, Watson, Mata

Replacements Cherry, Venter, Sebastian, Sykes, Boyle, Shiel, Scott, Lang