Get Newsletter

Gloucester takes aim at superstar Sharks

REACTION: George Skivington says that Gloucester will be braced for “a massive challenge” when they tackle South African heavyweight Sharks in this season’s Challenge Cup Final.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gloucester booked a place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24 after beating Italian challengers Benetton 40-23.

The West Country club were Challenge Cup winners in 2006 and 2015, although they lost to Cardiff on their last Final appearance six years ago.

Sharks edged past semifinal opponents Clermont Auvergne 32-31, and Gloucester Director of Rugby Skivington said he expected the Durban-based team to win.

“They have got a lot of superstars and play a really tough brand,” Skivington said.

“It is a massive challenge, there are a lot of big players in that team.

“It’s huge for the club.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We want to go to finals, win trophies and be in the knockout stages of competitions.

“We have put ourselves in a position to have a shot at another one, but we have got fierce opposition and we are going to have to be very ready for it.”

(Article continues below … Sharks gives their take on the Final)

Video Spacer

Flyhalf Adam Hastings was the architect of Gloucester’s triumph, contributing 17 points through a try, three conversions and two penalties on one of his last home appearances before rejoining Glasgow mid-year.

Fullback Josh Hathaway, hooker Seb Blake, lock Freddie Clarke and wing Ollie Thorley also touched down, while scrumhalf Caolan Englefield kicked a penalty 10 minutes from time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Benetton, Challenge Cup semifinalists last term, pushed Gloucester hard as hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi (2) and fullback Rhyno Smith scored tries – Tomas Albornoz added two penalties and a conversion – but two tries in four minutes midway through the second period gave the home side breathing space.

Skivington added: “Adam was brilliant.

“He is moving on next season, but he has been great for us and will do whatever it takes for the team.

“We gave him a really strong game plan this week, and he led that well.”

Gloucester have two Premiership games left before the Final, but they cannot finish any higher than ninth in the table.

“There is a balance of having to play some games and be rested as well,” Skivington said.

“We are still going to try and win them [the Premiership games], but ultimately I will use the Premiership to make sure we are best prepared for the final, and give some young players opportunities.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t be ripping into the two remaining Premiership games.”

Benetton will now turn their attention to sealing a place in the United Rugby Championship play-offs after making a second successive Challenge Cup semifinal exit.

“We had plenty of opportunities, but execution let us down,” Benetton head coach Marco Bortolami said.

“We had two or three moments when we applied pressure, but dropped the ball.

“Overall, they [Gloucester] are a very experienced team, and we are still learning.”

Join free

Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby 2023/24 | Round 15 Highlights

New Zealand v USA | Pacific Four Series 2024 | Full Match Replay

Pieter-Steph du Toit, The Malmesbury Missile, in conversation with Big Jim

Australia v Canada | Pacific Four Series 2024 | Full Match Replay

Rugby Africa Women's Cup | Madagascar v Cameroon | Full Match Replay

The Antoine Dupont Interview

Fresh Starts | Episode 3 | Cobus Reinach

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 11

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Write A Comment