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Gloucester down Benetton to reach Challenge Cup final

Gloucester secured their place in the Challenge Cup final with a comfortable 35-23 over Benetton

Tries from Josh Hathaway, Seb Blake, Adam Hastings, Freddie Clark and Ollie Thorley cemented Gloucester’s spot in the final, keeping their hopes of a historic double alive.

Gloucester got off to the perfect start, as Josh Hathaway pounced onto Chris Harris’ grubber kick to open the scoring after just seven minutes.

A cagey period followed, with both teams exchanging penalties (two to Benetton and one to Gloucester), but momentum was starting to go towards the Italian side.

Adam Hastings’ 50:22 gifted Gloucester possession back in Benetton territory, and they made it count as Seb Blake flopped down from the base of the maul.

Seb Blake scores for Gloucester-Credit: IMAGO

Benetton were still firmly in the fight though, but it took a yellow card to Zach Mercer to eventually allow their attack to flourish. They thought they had scored through Onisi Ratave, but his effort was chalked off. They weren’t held out for long though, with Rhyno Smith finishing off a powerful surge from Toa Halafihi on the stroke of half-time.

Cherry and Whites hold onto reach Challenge Cup final

The URC side came out of the traps quickly in the second-half, and threatened the Gloucester line. Ratave came the closest as he danced around three defenders before being stopped just short, but a crucial turnover from skipper Lewis Ludlow brought the early attack to a halt.

A string of Benetton penalties marched the Cherry and Whites up the pitch, giving Hastings an easy three pointer to extend their lead to seven points.

This penalty opened the game up, as the teams exchanged two sets of back-to-back tries.

Gianmarco Lucchesi gave Gloucester a taste of their own medicine as he dotted down from the base of the maul. Skivington’s men hit back instantly though, as Hastings finished off a well-worked attack.

The Cherry and White party continued, as Freddie Clark cheekily intercepted a pass to splash down under the sticks.

Freddie Clark splashes down-Credit: IMAGO

Benetton quickly responded as Lucchesi scored his second try of the game in identical fashion to his first, but the final hurrahs went to the hosts.

This effort reignited hopes of an Italian comeback job, however 10 points in the final 10 minutes made sure Gloucester booked their spot in the final.

Caolan Englefield knocked over his first penalty of the game, but Ollie Thorley put the cherry on top with a try in the 79th minute.

Gloucester 42-23 Benetton

Josh Hathaway celebrates Gloucester’s victory

Gloucester: 42

Tries: Hathaway, Blake, Hastings, Clarke, Thorley

Conversions: Hastings (3/5)

Penalties: Hastings (2/2), Englefield (1/1)

Benetton: 23

Tries: Smith, Lucchesi (2)

Conversions: Albornoz (1/3)

Penalties: Albornoz (2/2)