Gloucester survive late scare against Castres to secure Challenge Cup quarter-final spot

Planet Rugby
Gloucester congratulate Jonny May after try.

Gloucester congratulate Jonny May after try.

Gloucester booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup after battling past Castres 30-25 in a three-try success at Kingsholm on Friday.

Zach Mercer, Jonny May and Max Llewllyn crossed the whitewash for the Cherry and Whites while Argentina star Santiago Carreras fired over 15 points off the tee.

Julien Dumora, Loris Zarantonello and Josaia Raisuqe would score for Castres but it was not enough as Gloucester progress to face either Ospreys or Sale Sharks.

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Dumora wasted no time drawing first blood for the visitors with a try in the first minute converted by Pierre Popelin.

However, Gloucester pulled one back through Mercer with Carreras adding the extras before winger May put them in front in the 27th minute and Carreras converted.

Llewellyn added another try just four minutes later with Carreras converting and although two Popelin penalties either side of half-time reduced Gloucester’s lead, Carreras soon restored their 14-point advantage with two penalty kicks of his own.

Castres threatened a late comeback in the 72nd minute with Zarantonello scoring from a driving maul, with Popelin kicking the extras and after missing a drop goal two minutes later.

However, Carreras kicked a penalty in the 79th minute to calm Gloucester nerves.

The visitors kept pushing in the final stages with Raisuqe crossing in the 82nd minute but Popelin missed the conversion as Castres crash out of the Challenge Cup.

As mentioned, Gloucester now await the winner of the Ospreys v Sale clash, with home field advantage already assured due to the Cherry and Whites’ higher ranking.

The teams

Gloucester: 15 Santi Carreras, 14 Jonny May, 13 Max Llewellyn, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Caolan Englefield, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann (c), 5 Freddie Thomas, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Santi Socino, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Cam Jordan, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Jack Clement, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Chris Harris

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Adrien Seguret, 12 Andrea Cocagi, 11 Nathanael Hulleu, 10 Pierre Popelin, 9 Santiago Arata, 8 Abraham Papalii, 7 Nick Champion de Crespigny, 6 Mathieu Babillot (c), 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Gauthier Maravat, 3 Aurelien Azar, 2 Gaetan Barlot, 1 Wayan de Benedittis
Replacements: 16 Loris Zarantonello, 17 Antoine Tichit, 18 Esteban Talalua, 19 Florent Vanverberghe, 20 Yann Peysson, 21 Jeremy Fernandez, 22 Vilimoni Botitu, 23 Josaia Raisuqe

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRE)
Assistant Referees: Keane Davison (IRE), Robbie Jenkinson (IRE)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRE)

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