Edinburgh suffered a second successive defeat and will return from their tour of South Africa empty-handed after a 23-13 loss to Sharks in Durban.  

Tries side of half-time from Springboks Aphelele Fassi and Lukhanyo Am proved the difference on the scoreboard, while Phepsi Buthelezi's late score sealed a dominant win. A late Boan Venter try was scant consolation for the visitors. 

Sean Everitt’s side could now slip out of the play-off places depending on other results this weekend as the URC takes a break.  

They must rediscover some form ahead of next Saturday's visit of Bayonne in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup.  

Here are five things we learned from a disappointing display at Kings Park. 

Edinburgh put themselves under pressure 

The visitors didn’t have much ball early on, and when they did, Sean Everitt’s side took some unusual options that put them under more pressure.

When they scrambled well to hold the hosts up over the try line in the first couple of minutes, Ben Healy opted to kick his drop-out short. The home side won the ball back and immediately had another attacking chance in Edinburgh’s 22.  It was a baffling decision, but one he repeated later in the game.

Only a few minutes later, Wes Goosen attempted a wild offload to Duhan van der Merwe which went forward, then the back three failed to deal with a kick through from Jaden Hendrikse.  

It was a worrying trend that continued throughout the first half – which ended with Edinburgh having just 32% territory, a figure bolstered by a late spell inside the Sharks half.  

Hanging in there isn’t good enough 

Last week against Stormers, only Edinburgh’s scramble defence kept them in the contest in the first half. Worryingly in Durban, rather than Sean Everitt’s side trying to impose their own game on Sharks, the theme again seemed to not be cut adrift at half-time.  

Edinburgh had only one meaningful attack to speak of in the first half and were lucky to only be 7-3 down at the break. Sharks were held up over the visitors’ line twice and missed a penalty attempt. If they’d gone in 24 points to the good, not too many observers would have raised eyebrows.  

It was only in the final quarter Edinburgh fired some attacking shots – Matt Currie had a breakaway try correctly ruled out for a deliberate knock-on by Hamish Watson.  

Bossing the breakdown  

While the capital club spent much of the first half on the back foot, one area they got great joy was at the breakdown, where they won seven turnovers in the opening 40 minutes, to Sharks’ one.  

The home side shored up their breakdown in the second half, but Edinburgh still pilfered a couple and finished with nine turnovers to three. 

Scotland Rugby News: Jamie Ritchie put in a big shift on his return to the Edinburgh teamJamie Ritchie put in a big shift on his return to the Edinburgh team (Image: SNS)

The returning Jamie Ritchie was to the fore in that department – he made two terrific steals in the first half and stopped a Sharks attack early in the second half with a third turnover of the afternoon. Sam Skinner and Ewan Ashman also chipped in.  

Duhan must do better 

Duhan van der Merwe’s last outing was for Scotland against Ireland in Dublin – and we said then it was a difficult day for the big winger at the Aviva Stadium. He didn’t fare any better returning to his native South Africa here.

His opportunities were limited, but when the Edinburgh number 11 got his hands on the ball, he was too easily stopped by opposite man Werner Kok.

In the first half, Edinburgh’s main attacking weapon slalomed sideways before being cut down, and after the break he was knocked into touch far too easily.  

Outstanding Ox 

While the loss of Springboks tighthead prop Vincent Koch just before kick-off gave Edinburgh the edge in experience up front, Sharks were not thrown off their stride at the set-piece. With the game’s first scrum, another World Cup winner, Ox Nche, put retiring Edinburgh veteran WP Nel under huge pressure.  

The home side earned a first scoring opportunity on 15 minutes from another dominant scrum by Nche, and the loosehead himself nearly trundled over on the half-hour after putting the squeeze on Nel again.  

Nche also played his part in the loose with some terrific carries in close quarters added to by a thunderous hit on Hamish Watson.  

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am (c), Francois Venter (Hooker 50), Makazole Mapimpi, Siya Masuku (Bosch 68), Jaden Hendrikse; Ox Nche (Mona 69), Bongi Mbonambi (Jooste 61), Hanro Jacobs (Mchunu 61), Eben Etzebeth (Rahl 40), Emile van Heerden (Labuschagne 58), James Venter, Vincent Tshituka, Phepsi Buthelezi 

Tries: Fassi (21), Am (47), Buthelezi (76)

Conversions: Masuku (22)

Penalties: Masuku (61, 67) 

Edinburgh: Wes Goosen, Jake Henry (Scott 68), Matt Currie, Chris Dean (Lang 61), Duhan van der Merwe, Ben Healy, Ben Vellacott (c) (Shiel 68); Pierre Schoeman (Venter 61), Ewan Ashman (Cherry 52), WP Nel (Sebastian 52; Nel 75), Jamie Hodgson (Sykes 52), Sam Skinner, Jamie Ritchie (Boyle 65), Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata. 

Try: Venter (80)

Conversion: Healy (80)

Penalties: Healy (37, 56) 

Yellow cards: Shiel (75)

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)