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Gloucester v Sharks: Prediction, Tips and Odds

Gloucester and Sharks clash in the final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday.

The Cherry and Whites, winners of this competition in 2006 and 2015, have already collected the Premiership Rugby Cup this season and, after finishing ninth in the league, are clearly a team better suited to cup competitions.

This is only Sharks' second continental European campaign following the South African teams' introduction into the United Rugby Championship in time for the 2021/2022 season.

The Durbanites were four-time runners-up during their spell in Super Rugby but have never won a major trophy.

They head to London aiming to break their duck and have a star-studded pack that could have too much for their rivals.

Gloucester v Sharks

Gloucester v Sharks betting tips and predictions

Sharks -5.5 - 6/5

Sharks have struggled in the URC, but there are mitigating factors. They and the other South African sides are always up against it due to the travel they have to undertake and have to pick and choose when they play their best players.

Putting a two-metre-tall lock or a 20st prop on a 12-hour flight, usually in an economy seat due to financial and logistical issues, inevitably prompts eye-catching defeats.

As such, their 32-31 semi-final win over Clermont was played at Twickenham Stoop, rather than Kings Park, and they rested several of their stars for last Saturday's 36-14 loss to Cardiff in Durban.

With a URC play-off place beyond them, the Challenge Cup has been their priority.

It has been a similar story for Gloucester, who finished ninth in the Premiership standings but beat Newcastle 54-14 in their final domestic game and already have a trophy in the cabinet after winning this season's Premiership Rugby Cup.

Coach George Skivington is highly regarded for his focus and attention to detail, but his side has looked lightweight at times, especially during a nine-game losing streak in the league between October and January.

The Cherry and Whites' Challenge Cup run kept Skivington in a job during that time and they produced an excellent performance in their 40-23 semi-final win over Benetton. 

Opposite number John Plumtree has also come under pressure, but mainly because he has so much talent to call upon and his team have underperformed.

Friday is a shot at salvation and the sheer power in their pack, including a World Cup-winning front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Vincent Koch, with lock Eben Etzebeth behind them, suggests Sharks can grind their way to glory.

Makazole Mapimpi anytime tryscorer

Sharks' winger Makazole Mapimpi's ascent from starkly humble beginnings to two-time Rugby World Cup winner and producing a man-of-the-match performance in the second Test of a series victory over the British & Irish Lions is one of the great stories of both rugby and South African sport's recent history.

Recent injuries have been reflected in a drop-off in his numbers, but he has still crossed for four tries in the Challenge Cup, including the match-winning score against Clermont.

Mapimpi scored a try in the 2019 World Cup final, and it would be fitting for him to rise to the occasion again and score a touchdown that helps the Sharks win their first trophy.

Jonny May anytime tryscorer

Another ageing winger, in fact, another player to feature in the 2019 World Cup final, is Jonny May, who will play the final game of his second spell as a Gloucester player.

The former England man announced earlier this month that he would be heading for a new challenge away from Kingsholm.

May was part of the Gloucester side that won this tournament in 2015 and returned in 2020 after three seasons at Leicester.

Emotions are sure to be high for the 34-year-old and, after touching down against the Falcons in his last league game for the club, he could carry that form into Friday's final. 

Read more Rugby Union betting tips and predictions on site

Gloucester v Sharks odds

Gloucester - 11/8
Tie -
Sharks -

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This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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