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Sharks 22-12 Ulster: Ritchie Murphy starts stint in charge with defeat in Durban

Sharks flanker Phepsi Butelezi touches down for a try against Ulster in Durban
Sharks flanker Phepsi Butelezi touches down for a try against Ulster in Durban

United Rugby Championship

Sharks: (7) 22

Tries: Butelezi, Keyter, Mbonambi Cons: Masuka 2 Pen: Masuka

Ulster: (7) 12

Tries: Sheridan,Treadwell Cons: Cooney

Richie Murphy began his temporary reign as Ulster head coach with a 22-12 defeat by Sharks in South Africa.

Ulster made a bright start in an error-strewn first half and Harry Sheridan darted over for the opening try.

The hosts, who started in bottom spot, fought back with Phepsi's Buthelezi's try leaving it 7-7 at the break.

Eduan Keyter touched down as Sharks moved clear and Ulster's Kieran Treadwell went over before Bonji Mbonambi's try sealed the win.

Murphy, who will be in charge for the rest of the season, saw his side make the better start at a sun-kissed Kings Park Stadium.

Sharks lost George Cronje to injury in the second minute before Ulster pounced on misplaced pass, only for Wil Addison to be penalised for not releasing as the visitors pushed for an early try.

Errors and infringements led to to a disjointed affair, but Ulster strung a number of phases together to score the opening try on 19 minutes.

Richie Murphy watched his Ulster team in action for the first time on Saturday
Richie Murphy watched his Ulster team in action for the first time on Saturday

Steven Kitshoff and Kieran Treadwell made ground before Sheridan darted over at the post and a TMO check confirmed that the ball was grounded.

John Cooney added the extras but the Sharks stormed back into the game seven minutes later after another Ulster turnover.

The ball was cleared upfield and Ethan Hooker beat Addison in a race to the ball - he kicked on and after Mike Lowry failed to gather it fell to Butelezi, who sprinted over with Siya Masuka converting.

Sharks now had the momentum and missed out on a second try just before the break when Hanro Jacobs knocked on close to the line.

The hosts continued to control the game on the restart and they were rewarded with a try after 46 minutes.

Makazole's pinpoint kick-through was met by Keyter and he kicked on before touching down with his stomach after failing to grab the ball.

Masuka converted and then stretched the advantage to 10 points from a penalty.

Ulster hit back with their second try on 57 minutes with the ball spilling out to Treadwell and he twisted over before grounding the ball.

Nick Timoney on charge for Ulster against Sharks during Saturday's URC encounter
Nick Timoney on charge for Ulster against Sharks during Saturday's URC encounter

Cooney dragged the conversion wide before tempers flared and a second scuffle was sparked by a high tackle from Ulster skipper Ian Henderson.

Henderson was sin-binned for the tackle along with team-mate James Hume and Sharks' Vincent Tshituka for their part in the melee.

Sharks capitalised immediately with the extra player as Mbonambi rumbled over on 66 minutes from a line-out drive, although Masuka missed the conversion.

Scott Wilson's superb tackle denied Tshituka a bonus-point try as Sharks moved up three places to 13th, while Ulster remain sixth.

Sharks: Hendrikse; Masuku, Mapimpi, Hooker, Am (capt); Keyter, Fassi; Mchunu, Mbonambi, Jacobs, Etzebeth, Grobler, Buthelezi, Tshituka, Cronje.

Replacements: Van Vuuren, Nche, Koch, Rahl, Labuschagne, Wright, Bosch, Venter.

Ulster: Addison; McIlroy, Hume, McCloskey, Lowry; Burns, Cooney; Kitshoff, Stewart, O'Toole, Treadwell, Henderson (capt), Sheridan, McCann, Timoney.

Replacements: Andrew, Warwick, Wilson, Izuchukwu, Rea, Doak, Postlethwaite, Reffell.