Gloucester 22 – 36 sharks

Phepsi Buthelezi, Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi scored tries, while Siya Masuku scored three conversions and five penalties as South Africa’s Sharks defeated Gloucester 36-22 in the 2024 European Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Last update: 05/24/24 22:57

The Sharks claim the European Challenge Cup with a victory over Gloucester

Gloucester’s goal of ending a mixed season with a second silver medal ended with a 36-22 loss to the Sharks in the Challenge Cup final.

Aside from a dominant first 10 minutes and a spirited finish, George Skivington’s side were clearly outplayed in front of 34,761 spectators at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Gloucester had lifted the Premiership Rugby Cup earlier this season and, after suffering a club-record nine consecutive defeats in the Gallagher Premiership, Skivington decided to focus on Europe at the expense of the league.

That led to a weakened team taking on Northampton earlier this month and a 90-0 demolition followed with Skivington hoping the juggling of playing resources would pay dividends.

But instead Gloucester were beaten with late tries from Santiago Socino and Freddie Clarke, giving the final score a kinder glow as Jonny May’s farewell match failed to produce a scripted finish.

The Sharks are the first South African team to win a European competition and the foundations for their victory were laid by the ‘Bomb Squad’ frontline combination of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Vincent Koch.

Although they dominated, they spent the first 10 minutes defending their line and center Chris Harris came closest to drawing first blood only to be left inches away with an outstretched hand.

Aphelele Fassi was sent to the sin-bin for offside as the South African team began to give way, but once the storm had weathered, they moved downfield and were turned away by a Siya Masuku penalty.

A monster kick from scrum-half Caolan Englefield brought Gloucester level, but having matched the Sharks on the physical stakes, they then greeted No.8 Phepsi Buthelezi for a soft try.

Two more Masuku penalties were missed as his team set about squeezing their opponents and taking the points when they were available.

Siya Masuku kicked magnificently off the tee for the South African Sharks, scoring three conversions and five penalties.

Siya Masuku kicked magnificently off the tee for the South African Sharks, scoring three conversions and five penalties.

A dominant scrum early in the second half gave Gloucester hope they could turn the tide, but then, as they looked to build pressure, Zach Mercer gave an interception pass to Grant Williams to put the Sharks back on the offensive.

Williams’ break was the prelude to another period of Sharks ascendancy that was underlined by three more penalties and a Fassi try that was the product of a fluid attack.

Gloucester responded with a maul attempt headed in by Albert Tuisue, but his inability to deal with a kick opened the door for Makazole Mapimpi to collect a chip from Masuku and land.

Late tries from Socino and Clarke gave the English club’s scoreline respectability, but it had been a disappointing night.

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