Gloucester player ratings: Zach Mercer fails England audition as front-row smashed by Sharks’ World Cup winners

Colin Newboult
Zach Mercer in action for Gloucester v Sharks in the 2024 Challenge Cup final.

Zach Mercer in action for Gloucester v Sharks in the 2024 Challenge Cup final.

Following a 36-22 defeat to the Sharks in the Challenge Cup final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday, here are the player ratings for Gloucester.

15 Santi Carreras: Endured a horrific night under the high ball. After a good start, it all went downhill from there as he consistently gave the Sharks good field position. In fairness, the protection he received from his team-mates was dreadful, but he still should have caught the majority that went his way. 3

14 Jonny May: A sad way for the Cherry and Whites legend to end his time at the club. Barely got his hands on the ball and part of a back three that was outworked by their opposite numbers. 4

13 Chris Harris: Was agonisingly short of scoring the opening try and it proved costly as the Sharks went on to dominate. Defended well but couldn’t make much impression on the game. 5

12 Seb Atkinson: Similar to Harris, Atkinson was manful and attempted to put it about, but he was often sent flying backwards. 5

Bright spark in the backline

11 Ollie Thorley: Probably Gloucester’s best back, on both sides of the ball. Generally made it over the gain line, despite often carrying into traffic. 6

10 Adam Hastings: Never able to get hold of the game due to the Sharks’ forward dominance. However, there were also a few unforced errors and he missed far too many tackles. 4

9 Caolan Englefield: The pack gave him no go-forward but the scrum-half didn’t help them by putting up a number of poor box-kicks. After the first 20 minutes, Gloucester were never able to put pressure on their opponents in the air. 4

8 Zach Mercer: Wasn’t helped by the performance of his front-row but, even accounting for that, he struggled to compete physically with the Sharks behemoths. Often had his hands on the ball but rarely went forward. Not a great evening for the England hopeful. 5

Nuisance at close quarters

7 Lewis Ludlow (c): A missed tackle for the Sharks’ opening try aside, Ludlow played well. He was an absolute nuisance at the maul and breakdown, earning a couple of turnovers, and also did his bit in the lineout. 7

6 Ruan Ackermann: Carried plenty and made a few metres with ball in hand but it was not really enough to get his side on the front foot. 6

5 Arthur Clark: Good in the lineout and excellent defensively; you couldn’t really fault his performance, but just outclassed. 6

4 Freddie Clarke: Put it about but ultimately overwhelmed physically. Finished a nice try at the end, but part of a beaten Cherry and Whites pack. 5

Zach Mercer reveals last time he spoke to England head coach Steve Borthwick

Absolutely smashed

3 Fraser Balmain: Looked a tough assignment against Ox Nche and that proved to be the case for the tighthead as he was utterly annihilated by the an all-Springboks front-row. Had a torrid evening. 3

2 Seb Blake: Had his issues in both scrum and lineout as Gloucester failed to get any sort of platform. Was replaced at half-time alongside his front-row colleagues. 3

1 Jamal Ford-Robinson: Like Balmain, the loosehead had a huge task on his hands and he was unable to rise to it. 3

Replacements: The replacement front-row had a good early win but after that normal service was resumed. Santiago Socino and Albert Tuisue both scored tries but, in truth, they had little impact elsewhere. 5

READ MORE: Sharks’ Springboks stars dominate as Durbanites overwhelm Gloucester to claim historic Challenge Cup title