Gloucester beat Benetton 40-23 to set up Challenge Cup final clash against Sharks

Ollie Thorley was one of the try scorer for Gloucester
Ollie Thorley was one of the try scorer for Gloucester
©Steve Haag

Gloucester 40-23 Benetton, Kingsholm

Gloucester came up with a five try performance as they defeated Benetton 40-23 in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup at Kingsholm on Saturday.

This will be the fifth time Gloucester have reached the final of the Challenge having won them on two occasions in 2006 and 2015. They will now face Sharks in the final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 24th May.

Gloucester got off to a promising start as Josh Hathaway starting in place of Santiago Carreras collected a pass from Chris Harris to touchdown in the 5th minute but Adam Hastings' conversion drifted wide.

As Gloucester front-row was penalised at scrum, Tomas Albornoz kicked a three-pointer to make it 5-3 but his effort was cancelled out with Hastings kicked a long-range penalty goal making it 8-3. The gap narrowed down to two points as Albornoz kicked his second penalty goal in the 23rd minute on what his 50th appearance.

Seb Blake provided Gloucester with advantage as he dived over at the back of a maul and Hastings improved it to make it 15-6. They could have further extended the lead but missed a penalty kick and a drop goal as the gap remained at nine points. The hosts had a setback with Zach Mercer sin-binned for a tip tackle on Benetton full back Rhyno Smith.

With the numerical advantage on their side, Benetton made a comeback as Rhyno Smith diving in the corner for their first try but Albornoz missed out on the conversion as the teams completed the opening half with a 15-11 scoreline.

Hastings kicked a penalty goal early in the second half before Benetton hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi dived over at the back of a maul. Hastings scored a converted try in the corner to make it 25-16 and Freddie Clarke followed the suit to extend their lead to 16 points.

The final 15 minutes saw Gianmarco Lucchesi and Ollie Thorley exchange tries as Gloucester completed a 17 point victory to reach the final for the fifth time.

Team line up:

Gloucester: Hathaway, May, Harris, S. Atkinson, Thorley, Hastings, Englefield; Vivas, Blake, Gotovtsev, Clarke, Thomas, Ackermann, Ludlow, Mercer.

Reserves: Socino, Ford-Robinson, Knight, Tuisue, Clement, Varney, C. Atkinson, Hearle.

Benetton: Smith, Mendy, Menoncello, Brex, Ratave, Albornoz, Garbisi; Gallo, Nicotera, Ferrari, Scrafton, Snyman, Negri, Lamaro, Halafihi.

Reserves: Lucchesi, Spagnolo, Zilocchi, Cannone, Iachizzi, Izekor, Uren, Marin.