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Sharks, Lions and Cheetahs Challenge Cup opponents confirmed

Sharks' Gerbrandt Grobler breaks away during the Challenge Cup match against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on January 21, 2024 in Newport, South Wales.
Sharks' Gerbrandt Grobler breaks away during the Challenge Cup match against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on January 21, 2024 in Newport, South Wales.
Image: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images

The Sharks are set to face Italian side Zebre Parma at home in the Challenge Cup round of 16 as the Lions and Cheetahs are set to travel for the knockouts.   

The Sharks confirmed the knockout home fixture after their emphatic 29-9 victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade in Wales on Sunday.   

This was the first time that the Sharks registered back-to-back wins this season after they beat Oyonnax last weekend.   

It has been a tough season for the Sharks, especially in the United Rugby Championship where they are rooted at the foot of the table after nine games, with just a single win.   

This win against Dragons will serve as a huge confidence booster for the men from the Zulu Kingdom.   

The Sharks scored five tries through Jaden Hendrikse, Ox Nche, Gerbrandt Grobler, Le Roux Roets and Werner Kok.   

The hosts’ nine points came from the boot of Cai Evans who kicked three penalties.   

The Dragons needed to win the match to remain in the tournament, while the Sharks aimed to finish at the top of their pool to secure a home fixture for the round of 16.   

The hosts were able to keep their visitors under pressure for most of the opening half-hour as the Dragons enjoyed possession in that period.   

However, they were not able to put their dominance to good use, scoring just six points from the two penalties kicked by Cai Evans on seven and 22 minutes.   

Despite not being able to spend enough minutes in the Dragons’ half to apply pressure, the Sharks displayed a great deal of patience.   

However, the South Africans came into life after 30 minutes and took the game to their opponents who were not as good as the Sharks in handling the heat from the Durbanites.   

The Welsh side cracked under pressure as World Cup-winning Springbok Hendrikse went over for the first try of the match after a patient build-up by the visitors.   

Curwin Bosch’s successful conversion kick saw the Sharks take a one-point lead.   

The Sharks increased the pressure and scored the second try on the stroke of halftime through another World Cup-winner Nche.   

But Bosch was not able to add the extra two points as the Sharks led 12-6 at the halftime break.   

While the Sharks continued to dominate the hosts in the second stanza, they didn’t make a lot of entries into the Dragons 22.   

But when they got a chance, the Sharks made it count by scoring their third try of the match through lock Gerbrandt Grobler on 70 minutes.   

Dragons were dealt a serious blow when Rodrigo Martinez was yellow carded with six minutes to play.   

The Sharks then ran riot, scoring two more tries through Roets and the exciting Kok.   

The Dragons could only manage three points in the final half through another penalty by Evans.   

While the Sharks will welcome Zebre, the Lions and Cheetahs failed to get home fixtures.   

The Lions will travel to Benetton in Italy, while the Cheetahs visit Clermont in France.   

The round of 16 matches will take place early in April. 

SCORERS 

Sharks (12) 29 Tries: Jaden Hendrikse, Ox Nche, Gerbrandt Grobler, Le Roux Roets, Werner Kok Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2)

Dragons: (6) 9 Penalties: Cai Evans (3)

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