Gloucester Rugby player ratings from Challenge Cup final defeat to The Sharks

The Sharks powered their way over the top, through and arounf Gloucester Rugby on Friday night to claim a 36-22 victory in the Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

A try from Phepsi Buthelezi and three penalties from Siya Masuku gave the South African side a 16-3 halftime lead. Further tries from Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi meant the Sharks dominated the scoreboard despite a try from Albert Tuisue sandwiched in between. However, late scores from Santiago Socino and Freddie Clarke gave Gloucester something to cheer about, but it was not to be their night as they lost 36-22.

Rugby writer Sam Jess takes a closer look at the individual performances from the Cherry and Whites....

15. Santi Carreras - 6

Returning from surgery on his appendix, the Argentine was a welcome figure to begin with at the back, diffusing plenty of the bombs the Sharks scrum-half Grant Williams sent his way. While his aerial skills were tested, his positioning skills allowed the back three of the Sharks lots of time to compete for the ball. After a bright start to the game under the high ball, it was soon becoming a challenging night as he dropped plenty of the ball, one of which resulted in the Shark's third try. Never able to show his best attacking attributes.

14. Jonny May - 5

In his last-ever game for his beloved club, May made some decent last-ditch tackles but was caught out of position on the turnover ball, which was punished with ease by Makazole Mapimpi, who raced away after a taking a lovely cross-field kick to score. May looked to have set up a try for Stephen Varney as Goucester tried to work their way back into the game in the second, volltying a cross-field kick from Hastings throgh, but the score was correctly scrubbed off as the Italian international was offside in the build-up.

13. Chris Harris - 5

The Scottish centre had a bright start but opted to reach for the try line after an excellent burst of power rather than recycle it with the ball falling out of his grasp as he came up just short of the whitewash. This unlucky drop would prove costly as the Sharks would clear their lines, escaping Gloucester's pressure for the opening minutes. It was a rough old game for Harris as he spent most of his night running into brick walls, but a great offload late in the game opened up the opposition's defence to create Socino's try.

There was more good than bad from the Scottish international.

12. Seb Atkinson - 5

One of the many first-time European finalists, Atkinson, like many, started well before tiring out. A neat pass to Chris Harris nearly resulted in an early try but for a drop by the Scottish centre.

11. Ollie Thorley - 5

In a chaotic final, Thorley surprisingly had a quiet game with little action on his side, but when the ball did go wide, it was by the Sharks, but Thorley did cover well, making some great last gasps hits and chasing kicks brilliantly. He got to show what he can do with ball in hand in the closing moments as he broke from his own, slipped but still had time to get back to his feet, and get into the oppositin half to put Clarke in position to score.

10. Adam Hastings - 4

Another player in his last game for the club, Hastings, before heading back up to Scotland, had a nightmare. While he may have started the game well, zipping the ball around with purpose, his decision-making in defence was dreadful, allowing a few half-breaks for the hosts, including one for Vincent Koch, who set up the game's opening try. Sadly, Hasting's final game was turning into a sour event as he again flew out the line, this time to hit the fullback Aphelele Fassi, but again came up short-changed, allowing the speedster to sprint away for the game's second try. A trip on Grant Williams summed up his night

9. Caolan Englefield - 7

Given the nod ahead of Italian starter Stephen Varney, Englefield was a liveware in attack during the opening exchanges, giving his side quick ball during phase play while also making some neat breaks himself as Gloucester dominated the opening 10 minutes. Some of the kicks from the rucks were slightly too long, allowing easy takes for the Sharks' back three, but his big boot came in handy when he nailed a 59m penalty to get his side on the board .

1. Jamal Ford-Robinson - 4

One of Glocuester's players of the season, Ford-Robinson had a rough old night at scrum time as Springbok Vincent Koch powered over for two penalties in the first half and was subbed along with the rest of his front-row colleagues at halftime.

2. Seb Blake - 4

The hooker was just 14 when Gloucester last won the Challenge Cup, but now he is a constant starter and threat. However, having nailed the first lineout close to the Sharks line, Blake was shoved out of play on the second, costing his side a try-scoring chance. The hooker was then caught unlucky at a breakdown allowing the Sharks to take an easy three points. It promised to be a great night for Blake, but Skivignton chose to replace him during the break.

3. Fraser Balmain - 3

One of the stalwarts of Gloucester's pack was right up against it, giving away two scrum penalties in the 10 minutes as Springbok prop Ox Niche powered over Balmain, lifting him clean off his feet. A missed tackle on Phepsi Buthelezi meant that Balmain had a night to forget on the biggest stage.

4. Freddie Clarke - 6

One of the few Gloucester players to feature in the 2017 and 18 Challenge Cup losses, Clarke was involved in a right old tussle at lineout time with Eben Etzabeth lining up for the Sharks. Some late breakdown work and another 40m try to add to hsi indovodial showreel meant the scoreboard had a much closer feel to it.

5. Arthur Clark - 6

The battle in the lineout was a chess match with Clark right in the heart of it, stealing plenty of Sharks ball but also losing some of his team's own too. The lock battled on through the night, winning some late turnovers and offloads to send Socino in for a consolation try.

6. Ruan Ackermann - 5

The South African started at number eight the last time Gloucester played in a Challenge Cup Final; now on the flanks, the South African had a physical start before letting slip Buthelezi, who raced past three of Gloucester's players for a sensational solo effort. Ackermann, known for his work at the breakdown, struggled against the power and speed of the Sharks back-row

7. Lewis Ludlow (C) - 5

The captain led from off early on with some bruising carries, but the flanker did let slip Phepsi Buthelezi as the Sharks eight eventually raced away for the game's first score. Ludlow struggled against a very physical back-row of the Sharks and will rue some poor missed tackles but he led the resistence the best he could with at least one key turnover.

8. Zach Mercer - 6

The eight is expected to be named in Steve Borthwick's provisional England squad for the summer, and his final began in a lively fashion, being taken out in the air by Aphelele Fassi in the opening exchanges. This did not stop him, though, as the eight was carrying the ball with great intent during the opening exchanges. From then on, we saw very little of the Zach Mercer that had dominated the gain line and his looping pull back passes from first reciever got predictable and eventually were picked off by Grant Williams who broke away. Not the final he would have wanted.


16. Santiago Socino -7

With the Sharks dominating the set piece in the first half, the Argentine Hooker was called to action and made an instant impact both at scrum time and then a breakdown inches from his line, striping Ox Niche off possession. While his impacts were in a losing cause, a great inside line meant he finished the season with a try.

17. Mayco Vivas - 6

With the Sharks dominating the set piece in the first half, the Argentine prop was called to action and made an instant impact but got a few tough calls as the game went on.

18. Kirill Gotovtsev- 6

The Georgian Prop made George Skivington's halftime gamble pay off as he, along with the new front-row, earned a huge penalty at the first set-piece after the Oranges however, the joy did not last long for Gotovtsev as he was penalised at the scrum close to his line for pulling away.

19. Albert Tuisue - 6

Another substitution making a huge impact as he powered his way over from the back of the maul for Gloucester's opening try to give his side a sniff.

20. Jack Clement - 6

Added some power for the English side, but it was far too late for it to matter but Clement can be proud of his work off the bench

21. Stephen Varney - 6

It looked like he scored a great late try but was sadly offside from Hastings's kick to May as he chased the later kick from an offside position to score a try that never was.

22. Max Llewellyn - N/A

Addeed some grunt to get Gloucester over the gain line.

23. Josh Hathaway - N/A