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Gloucester player ratings vs Sharks | EPCR Challenge Cup 2023/24

By Philip Bendon
Caolan Englefeld

Gloucester player rating: Gloucester Rugby couldn’t make their early advantage tell as they succumbed to a powerful display from the Hollywoodbets Sharks who won the EPCR Challenge Cup final 36 – 22 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.


Here is how the Gloucester players fared in their first Cup loss of the season.

1. Jamal Ford-Robinson – 4 
Unusually quiet from the dynamic loosehead as he rarely got the ball in his hands. At scrum time, he was under the pump early as Springbok veteran Vincent Koch put a vice-like grip on proceedings. Being replaced at half-time says it all, unfortunately.

2. Seb Blake – 4
Joining his front-row colleagues in being plucked from the action at halftime, the hooker had a limited impact on the match. His struggles at line-out time put his team under pressure, with the Sharks scoring from one of his stolen throws.

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Avg. Points Scored
Avg. Points Scored

3. Fraser Balmain – 4
The big tighthead was clutching at ghosts as he simply saw Sharks number eight Phepsi Buthelezi slip through his grasp for the opening try of the match.

4. Freddie Clarke – 7
Carried on a handful of occasions inside the opening twenty minutes and made some inroads. His work rate was phenomenal as he set up Gloucester’s second try with a rumble down the left-hand touchline before passing infield to replacement hooker Santiago Socino. Minutes later, he would finish off a try of his own as he finished off a long-range strike.

5. Arthur Clark – 5
The 22-year-old giant will be disappointed with his return against the experienced Sharks lock pair who disrupted the Gloucester line-out ball. Around the park, Clark struggled to make any in-roads with the ball in hand and was eventually replaced in the 56th minute.


6. Ruan Ackermann – 5
Rarely carried the ball with any success but was resolute in his defensive effort for 65 minutes before being replaced by Jack Clement.

7. Lewis Ludlow – 6
Led from the front with some crucial tackles but will be kicking himself for going high on Phepsi Buthelezi and being so easily brushed off as the Sharks’ backrow raced away for the opening try of the evening.

8. Zach Mercer – 8
The fulcrum from which the Gloucester game revolves, his ability to link with the backline is second to none and was Gloucester’s only real attacking threat all evening. Taking the ball hard to the line before pulling it back got his team on the front (albeit one pass did get intercepted). Defensively, his work rate was off the charts as he put in several timely tackles and was a constant threat around the breakdown.

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9. Caolan Englefield – 8
He dictated the Cherry and Whites’ attacking tempo masterfully and utilised his howitzer of a boot to slot a 59-meter penalty to bring his team level in the 23rd minute. His threat as a sniping runner around the ruck had the Sharks’ defence on the back foot early, whilst his tactical kicking relieved pressure superbly.


10. Adam Hastings – 5
It was very much a mixed bag from the Scottish international, who had Sharks defenders in his face all evening. Given little time or space, he rarely had an impact and began to sit deeper into the pocket as the match wore on.

11. Ollie Thorley – 5
He chased kicks hard all evening and made some great yardage early in the first half, but seemed to fade away as the fixture progressed.

12. Seb Atkinson – 5
The 22-year-old will learn from this experience, but he simply couldn’t make any headway into the heart of the Sharks’ defence. His struggles led to him being removed from the action at the 55-minute mark.

13. Chris Harris – 7
He came agonisingly close to dotting down in the 7th minute as he took a trademark hard line only to be inches short and knocked on. Defensively, he, by and large, kept a lid on the potent Sharks backline, but like the rest of the Gloucester backline, he wasn’t afforded much time and space by the Sharks rush defence.

14. Jonny May – 4
Uncharacteristically quiet from the England veteran despite him routinely looking for work. When he did get the ball, the Sharks were all over him. The biggest disappointment for him will be how frequently he was exposed in defence as he looked to cut off the outside ball by biting in. One such occasion led to Makazole Mapimpi’s try as the Springbok winger caught the ball in acres of space.

15. Santiago Carreras – 6
The pick of the outside backs, the Argentine had a few good runs and kicked well when called upon. Defensively, he covered the backfield well as the Sharks routinely probed with grubber kicks, and he was solid under the high ball.


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Possession Last 10 min


16. Santiago Socino – 6
A busy forty-minute shift from the replacement hooker who steadied the line-out somewhat. His biggest impact came in his carries, and he was rewarded with a relatively straightforward scamper to the line for a try in the 75th minute.

17. Mayco Vivas – 4
Conceded a couple of crucial scrum penalties, denying his team some much needed ball and just never really caught up to the pace of the game.

18. Kirill Gotovtsev – 4
Alongside his fellow front-row replacements, he really struggled at scrum time and had a few glaring missed tackles that proved costly.

19. Albert Tuisue – 7
Scored Gloucester’s opening try at the back of a well-set maul and generally brought a hard edge that had been missing. In addition to his carries, his ability to counter-ruck denied the Sharks some of their previously abundant quick ball.

20. Jack Clement – 6
Brought a real energy from the bench with some great carries and subtle passes that linked up the backline beautifully to finally get them on the front foot in the final ten minutes.

21. Stephen Varney – 6
The Italian international brought a spark when he entered the fray and came within a whisker of getting what would have been a timely try to get his team back into the fixture only to be denied by the TMO.

22. Max Llewellyn – 6
Had a positive impact with his sprinkling of incisive carries and played a key role in Gloucester’s two late tries but, unfortunately, came on when a win was firmly out of reach.

23. Josh Hathaway – 5
A tricky one to assess, given he only got four minutes when the result was beyond doubt, but with the carries he did have, he made yards with his remarkable pace, begging the question as to why he wasn’t utilised earlier.




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