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Sharks' Euro success: The numbers that matter

SPOTLIGHT: History will reflect that the Sharks are the first South African franchise to win on one of Europe’s main stages – the Challenge Cup.

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Their 36-22 demolition of Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium showed the potential of a team that has managed just four wins in 17 starts in their ‘domestic’ (read United Rugby Championship) campaign.

Whatever the underlying reasons for their horror run in the URC – and those are well documented – becoming the first SA team to claim a European Professional Club Rugby title will silence even their most ardent critics for a while.

Most pundits ascribed the win in London – their first in an international Final after four Super Rugby runners-up medals – to the number of World Cup-winning Springboks.

Makazole Mapimpi, Grant Williams, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche played massive roles.

However, unpacking the post-match stats revealed that non-Springboks also played significant roles – if not more.

(Continue below …)

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Let’s start with the one World Cup-winning Bok that produced significant stats.

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Six of scrumhalf Grant Williams’ kicks were retained against Gloucester.

No player has had so many kicks retained in a match this season.

Flyhalf Siya Masuku further enhanced his burgeoning reputation by scoring 21 of the Sharks’ 36 points in the Final.

He also made two try assists.

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No.8 Phepsi Buthelezi beat more defenders than any other player (four) and scored a try.

Flank James Venter made four dominant tackles in the Final.

No other player made more than one.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Additional reporting by @ChallengeCup_

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