Gloucester Rugby final bound after victory over Exeter Chiefs

Gloucester Rugby final bound after victory over Exeter Chiefs

A fast start from Gloucester Rugby helped them book their place in the 2023/24 Premiership Rugby Cup final with a 17-14 win over Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm this afternoon.

Stand out performances from Zach Mercer, Seb Atkinson, Lewis Ludlow and youngster, Josh Hathaway among others inspired the Cherry & Whites to a narrow victory over last years winners.

The home side had an early opportunity to open the scores thanks to an early scrum penalty, but fly-half George Barton failed to take advantage from the tee.

The Cherry & Whites were ahead shortly after though, as captain, Lewis Ludlow powered into the corner following a break from his back row colleague, Zach Mercer. Barton missed his conversion attempt. 5-0.

Welshman, Max Llewellyn, crossed fro Gloucester's second on the ten minute mark. Some good work from Seb Atkinson and then Mercer brought them up to the Exeter line before a cut out pass from Barton sent the centre over the try line. Barton added the extras this time, from in front of the sticks. 12-0.

Mercer was creating all sorts of chaos in the Exeter defence, breaking the line almost every time he carried.

He burst through once more from just inside his own half, with Exeter defenders chasing him from beind and full back, Josh Hodge in front of him, he kicked through, and the ball bounced up perfectly into the hands of the oncoming Josh Hathaway, who was a late call up to the starting team.

Barton failed to add the conversion again from the touchline. 17-0.

In the second-half, the visiting side had much more of the ball, but the Cherry & Whites defence stayed strong up until the hour mark thanks to several efforts being held up over the line and big turnovers from the Gloucester back row.

However, the Chiefs did get on the scoreboard on the hour mark to close the gap. Flanker, Jaques Vermeulen buried his way over, with Harvey Skinner easily adding the extra two from in front of the uprights. 17-7.

Ross Vincent scored at the tail of a strong maul to for Exeter's second as the clock ticked into the final ten minutes of the game.

Skinner's conversion closed the gap to just three points, with the Chiefs gaining all the momentum in the final stages. 17-14.

Barton relieved some late pressure when his kick over the top was touched by Hodge to give Gloucester a line out on the away side's five metre line. But Exeter just about halted the resulting maul to give them one final throw of the dice.

But the Cherry & Whites pilfered the resulting line out and won a penalty in midfield to send them to the Premiership Rugby Cup final.

The venue will be decided tomorrow, when Ealing Trailfinders host Leicester Tigers in the other semi-final. A win for Ealing would mean that they host the final, but a win for the Tigers would mean the final will be hosted back here, at Kingsholm, on the weekend of the 14/16/17 March.

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