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Sharks player ratings vs Gloucester | EPCR Challenge Cup 2023/24

By Ian Cameron
Hollywoodbet Sharks' Makazole Mapimpi scores a try in the second half during the EPCR Challenge Cup Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Hollywoodbets Sharks at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24, 2024 in London, England.(Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Sharks player ratings: The Hollywoodbet Sharks’ powerful forward pack laid the foundation for their convincing 36-22 win over Gloucester in the Challenge Cup Final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, aided by a superb performance from their young standoff Siya Masuku.

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Here’s how each player fared in the historic win, which saw the Sharks become the first South African side to win the a European competition.

1. Ox Nche – 8.5
A real presence in the scrums and relentless in the loose. His strength and technique gave the Sharks the upper hand up front, with Fraser Balmain struggling to deal with the Bok.

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2. Bongi Mbonambi – 8.5
The experienced hooker was immense, leading from the front with aggressive carries and accurate lineout throwing. His leadership was crucial in the tight exchanges.

3. Vincent Koch – 8.5
Dominant in the scrums, Koch’s experience shone through. He provided a stable platform and was a force in the mauls and what about that 50:22 in the 32nd minute? Filth.

Set Plays

11
Scrums
4
45%
Scrum Win %
100%
16
Lineout
11
81%
Lineout Win %
82%
6
Restarts Received
10
100%
Restarts Received Win %
80%

4. Eben Etzebeth – 8
A colossus both literally and figuratively. Etzebeth’s physicality and presence were pivotal in the Sharks’ forward dominance. His sweeping to deny Chris Harris millimetres from the line was superb, even if Ugo Monye thinks it was illegal.

5. Gerbrandt Grobler – 7.5
Grobler complemented Etzebeth well in the lineouts and contributed with gritty work in the tight. Was man-handling Gloucester ballcarriers all night.

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6. James Venter – 8
A Josh-van-der-Flier-like tackling machine. Venter’s work rate was exceptional, making numerous dominant tackles and providing quick ball at the breakdown.

7. Vincent Tshituka – 7.5
A dynamic presence around the park, Tshituka was industrious in both attack and defence. His athleticism was on full display but it was a telling 39th-minute turnover on the deck that was maybe the highlight of his evening.

8. Phepsi Buthelezi – 8
Exploded into life on 26 minutes, breaking the Gloucester line before running it in from 40 metres out. One of the Sharks’ standout performers; Buthelezi’s energy, leadership and dynamic play were a big part of this Sharks’ win.

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9. Grant Williams – 8.5
Sharp and decisive, Williams controlled the tempo well and linked effectively with his forwards and backs. His box kicking was also first-class.

10. Siya Masuku – 8
An incredibly composed performance. Masuku managed the game efficiently and while not always spectacular, he ensured the Sharks played in the right areas of the field and crucially kept the scoreboard ticking over. So very nearly a perfect night from the kicking tee.

11. Makazole Mapimpi – 7.5
A couple of uncomfortable moments under the high ball. He didn’t threaten the Gloucester line much in the first-half, but was full of industry off the ball. Very nearly got over early in the second 40 following an electric break that led to Fassi’s crucial try. Collected a crossfield from Masuku that finished off Gloucester with 20 minutes to go on the clock.

12. Francois Venter – 7.5
Venter was part of a Sharks midfield that repeatedly won the battle of the gainline. His distribution was steady, if a little workmanlike.

13. Ethan Hooker – 7.5
Like Venter, Hooker was a roadblock in the midfield. His defensive performance disrupted Gloucester’s attacking flow, which never really got going. While he didn’t contribute all that much in attack, he and Venter were a formidable unit.

14. Werner Kok – 6
The Ulster-bound winger’s work rate and physicality were evident, even if opportunities to make an impact on the proceedings were few and far between.

Attack

123
Passes
102
92
Ball Carries
94
105m
Post Contact Metres
175m
3
Line Breaks
8

15. Aphelele Fassi – 7
Very lucky not to be carded for a clumsy challenge on Zach Mercer just two minutes into the game and sent off for 10 after a cumulative yellow for the South Africans. Got on the end of a 5-pointer on 55 minutes and was a menace whenever he got near  ball in the second half.

Replacements: 

16. Fez Mbatha – 6
Came on and maintained the set-piece solidity.

17. Ntuthuko Mchunu – 6
Brought fresh energy to the front row and kept up the pressure on Gloucester.

18. Hanru Jacobs – 5
Held his own after coming on with a few minutes to go.

19. Jeandre Labuschagne – NA
Despite the scoreline, Plumtree strangely didn’t see fit to use many of his bench (Labuschagne included) until the match was all but over.

20. Dylan Richardson – NA
As above.

21. Cameron Wright – NA
As above.

22. Curwin Bosch – NA
As above.

23. Eduan Keyter – NA
Unused.

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