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Sharks player ratings vs Leinster | 2023 URC quarter-final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Sharks players ratings live from Aviva Stadium: The South African franchise came to Dublin looking to cause a major URC upset against a Leinster team last beaten at home 11 months ago by the Bulls. That 2022 semi-final took place a few hundred yards along the Shelbourne Road, the RDS the scene of that famed ambushing of the four-in-a-row PRO16 champions which set up an all-South African final won by the Stormers.

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The booking of ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springsteen for a three-night residency at the RDS this week meant it was at Aviva Stadium where the top-seeded Leinster staged their latest URC knockout fixture and the odds coming in were very much against the eighth-ranked Sharks.

Bad enough that their form in this comp had been frustratingly inconsistent, the ledger showing just two wins in their last seven trips – including a 54-34 regular season loss at Leinster. But they also woundingly arrived minus injured giants Eben Etzebeth and Siyi Kolisi.

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John Plumtree on the travel factor for South African teams

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John Plumtree on the travel factor for South African teams

Next season the Sharks will have John Plumtree, the former Ireland and All Blacks assistant, at the helm as head coach. But this particular XV under the baton of Neil Powell, who will step upstairs to the director of rugby role, didn’t have the required bite to ask enough questions of Leinster.

The hosts’ selection was hugely rejigged from last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse, the team that had baited the Sharks 54-20 last month in France in the quarter-finals of that tournament.

These Sharks weren’t toothless – the early solo try brilliantly scored by Grant Williams demonstrated that. However, once Leinster found their mojo, they were unstoppable, a momentum abetted by the scoring of two first-half tries with Makazole Mapimpi in the sin bin.

That meant a 5-21 interval deficit and the margin only increased in the second half, Leinster’s fourth try on 51 minutes putting the result to bed before a fifth five minutes from time pushed the gap to 30, the travelling South Africans losing 5-35. Here are the Sharks player ratings:

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15. Aphelele Fassi – 4
Started tidily but came unstuck with the lame attempted tackle on the try-scoring Jordan Larmour on 24 minutes. That was way too soft a giveaway at this level, failing to readjust his footing to put a decent hit in. Wasn’t generally aggressive enough when it mattered. Look at his ‘I surrender’ attitude when faced with the two-on-one for Leinster’s fourth try.

14. Marnus Potgieter – 4.5
Began with a good cover tackle on Ciaran Frawley early on, but that was about the height of it on an evening when Leinster’s quick attack was a dominant factor.

13. Lukhanyo Am – 5
Skipper in the absence of twin totems Kolisi and Etzebeth, he was very quiet and couldn’t wield the necessary leadership to ensure his team made a decent fist of this gigantic challenge.

12. Ben Tapuai – 5
The former Harlequins centre, who is on his way to Bordeaux next term, was eclipsed by opposite number Charlie Ngatai during his 57 minutes on the pitch. His replacement Rohan Janse van Rensburg thought he had grabbed a consolation eight minutes from time but foul play elsewhere scrubbed that out.

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11. Makazole Mapimpi – 4.5
Sin-binned on 14 minutes for the head-high fashion with which he tried to stop Doris from scoring, two tries were conceded in his absence. That leakage was critical.

10. Boeta Chamberlain – 4.5
Missed twice off the tee in the first half, five points that would have cut the deficit to a more manageable 11. A bright moment was an interception at the time his team was enjoying its early seven-minute lead. His 58-minute contribution, though, was summed up by the ineffective clearance kick that was run back for Leinster’s fourth try early in the second half.

9. Grant Williams – 6.5
Produced a world-class score on seven minutes, fastening onto ruck ball, beating Tadhg Furlong around the corner and stylishly cantering clear from the 10-metre to score. That moment of beauty, though, and his generally slick passing service weren’t enough to fire up his sluggish team. Gave the assist for the Sharks’ late consolation that was chalked off for breakdown foul play.

1. Ox Nche – 6
A good man for a tackle when under the pump amid relentless traffic, he can be generally pleased with his hour-long individual effort. However, his concession of a scrum free in the Leinster attack near the interval was annoying as it ruined a promising attacking position to trim the-then 16-point margin.

2. Bongi Mbonambi – 5.5
Early lineout didn’t function as smoothly as the Springboks hooker would have liked in his 60 minutes. Also had his frustrations elsewhere. For instance, in the 28th-minute phase where he latched onto a maul near the Leinster line that failed to go anywhere and when he did loop off and went solo, he was quickly mown down on the carry.

3. Thomas du Toit – 6.5 (Carlu Sadie – 5)
The Bath-bound tighthead won a penalty at the first Leinster scrum against Michael Milne, but he couldn’t prevent the prop from scoring with a 21st-minute carry. Du Toit’s gallant attempt left him requiring shoulder treatment and although he played on for one more period of play, he was hooked three minutes later for Carlu Sadie. The sub had a positive start, winning a scrum penalty, but struggled with his bulk around the park. His failure to take a pass on 46 minutes highlighted this but he did soon win another scrum penalty.

4. Corne Rahl – 5.5
Had it tough as the man wearing Etzebeth’s shoes. An early lineout fumble was an indicator of that onerous challenge for a lock making just his second start at this level, but he went on to play the entire match, an exposure that should greatly assist the rookie’s development.

5. Gerbrandt Grobler – 5.5
The lock had an unsavoury time at Munster some years ago and this return to elsewhere in Ireland won’t be fondly remembered. A ruck carry, which tempted an infringement for a shot at goal that was missed just before the break, was his most evident contribution.

6. James Venter – 6
Very busy on the tackling front but slow off the back of the scrum to shut down the attack for Leinster’s first score. Simple things blotted his copy. An example was the penalty-conceding extra roll he took on the floor near the Leinster line in the first half. Then there was also the late second-half yellow for his needless clearout on Andrew Porter which resulted in a Sharks try getting cancelled.

7. Vincent Tshituka – 6.5
His game ended in the frustration of not having the gas to stop the countering Jamison Gibson-Park from scoring Leinster’s fifth try but the solace was that he was his team’s best back row throughout a lopsided contest they were never going to win.

8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe – 5.5
A regular starter in recent weeks, he came up against the wrecking ball that was Doris whose try cancelled out the early Sharks lead. Was then caught dawdling by the Hugo Keenan break that laid the platform for the third Leinster score. Did what he could during his 58 minutes, but this was an outing where Doris very much eclipsed him.

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