Sharks ready to bare teeth in historic final

Curwin Bosch has recently brought some real energy to the Sharks, according to coach John Plumtree. | BackpagePix

Curwin Bosch has recently brought some real energy to the Sharks, according to coach John Plumtree. | BackpagePix

Published May 21, 2024


Leighton Koopman

The Sharks’ ambition to create more history in the EPCR Challenge Cup final on Friday took a bit of a knock, although not a death blow, with hard-hitting young flanker Tino Mavesere’s unavailability for the clash against Gloucester.

He was set to travel to London for the Gloucester showdown at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (kick-off 9pm) after Saturday’s disappointing loss against Cardiff, but after picking up a red card early on in the match, the plans were put on ice.

The 25-year-old has been one of the finds of the season for the coastal side, and his physicality and work rate have been immense in the games he has played. While the Sharks have some seasoned loose forwards, he would’ve provided another option for head coach John Plumtree and his assistants.

Some good news for the Sharks, though, was the performance of utility back Curwin Bosch and centre Eduan Keyter. Bosch has been fighting his way back to form after some lukewarm performances.

John Plumtree, head coach of the Sharks, was pleased with the performance of the trio.

“Tino was playing really well up until that red card and I am excited by his future,” he said.

“It’s really disappointing for him. He was coming to London with us. Keyter also did not look out of place in the midfield.

“I was also really happy with Curwin when he came on and brought some real energy to the team. There were some positives (from the last clash).”

The Sharks have already made some history in Europe this year after becoming the first South African rugby side to reach the quarter-finals and semis of an EPCR competition. Now they are looking to go one step further against the English Premiership team by winning on Friday.

Although there’s a place in the history books up for grabs, it’s not something the Durbanites will focus on, but rather on the game itself.

Winning the Challenge Cup will get the Sharks back into the Champions Cup after they missed out on qualification via the URC where they’ve had a season to forget.

Gloucester have also prioritised the Challenge Cup as they currently find themselves ninth in the English league. They’ve come off a good win this past weekend against Newcastle after previously being trounced 90-0 by Northampton.

The Sharks should have an update on their Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, and Lukhanyo Am who all went off injured in a match against Benetton earlier this month. Etzebeth took a knock to the head and should have completed his return-to-play protocol, with Koch and Am’s knocks deemed not too serious for them to be available for the title-deciding clash.