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Agen record valuable away win

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:34

- 09/10/2006 10:34

Gloucester Rugby were stunned into submission by a rampant Leinster in Round 1, and cannot afford to start slowly against Agen this week.

The west country club excelled on their way to winning the European Challenge Cup last season, but must pick up their game if they are to succeed at the highest level.

They did show signs of the running rugby that they used to such good effect last season, and must show that again if they are to outgun Agen, who narrowly defeated Edinburgh 19-17 in Round 1.

Olly Morgan will return to Gloucester’s starting XV. The 20-year-old, who was this week named in England’s 30-man squad for next weekend’s international against the All Blacks, returns to the starting line-up following a torn shoulder muscle picked up against the Ospreys in the EDF Energy Cup last month.

Morgan’s inclusion means Iain Balshaw switches to the wing in place of Mark Foster, who misses out because of a foot injury sustained during his try-scoring performance in last weekend’s 37-20 defeat against Leinster.

“It is great to have Olly back in the squad because he is a fantastic young player and it gives us plenty of attacking options,” said Dean Ryan.

Ryan’s major selection issues have occurred up front where both openside flanker Andy Hazell and number eight James Forrester are missing.

The pair sustained their injuries last weekend – Hazell has not recovered from a shoulder injury and Forrester picked up a knock to his left knee.

“Andy is still getting spasms in his shoulder and that is enough to keep him out,” Ryan said. “James has a knee injury which we expect to know the extent of next week when he sees a specialist on Monday.”

It means Jake Boer replaces Hazell in the number seven shirt and Luke Narraway gets a run at number eight.

There is one other change in the pack and that comes at lock. Jonathan Pendlebury will make his first start of the season alongside skipper Marco Bortolami. The front row remains unchanged which means Christian Califano will face his former club and be joined by hooker Mefin Davies and tighthead prop Carlos Nieto.

“We obviously understand the importance of this match and it should be a fantastic occasion. To have Heineken Cup rugby back at Kingsholm is special for everyone and we know it will be a massive encounter,” Ryan added.


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Agen record valuable away win

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:34

- 09/10/2006 10:34

Agen won their second game on the bounce in Pool 2 with an important away win at Kingholm, but for the second week running, Gloucester were dealt a Heineken Cup lesson.

Agen were wonderfully well served by the likes of flankers Peio Som and Colin Yukes and marshalled brilliantly by half-back combination Nicolas Morlaes and Jerome Miquel.

And any team who possess a broken field runner of the quality of Rupeni Caucaunibuca are always capable of breaking out from nowhere.

Gloucester made a bright start – Anthony Allen – who produced yet another high-class midfield performance and was well worth his two tries – hit up the middle immediately and Gloucester chugged into a 6-0 lead thanks to two Ryan Lamb penalties.

Agen’s first try came after 10 minutes and it was a beauty. James Bailey chased Peter Richards’ kick but Pepito Elhorga collected the high ball and ran back, combining with Caucaunibuca, who off-loaded brilliantly in the tackle.

Gloucester threw themselves into rucks but left space in the wide areas and Manu Ahotaeiloa and Dave Vainqueur combined brilliantly under pressure to send Arnaud Mignardi in for the score in the far right corner.

A hushed tone descended on Kingsholm and the concern was almost deafening, despite the fact Lamb kicked a 16th minute penalty to make it 9-6.

However, it was Agen who looked more threatening, particularly from deep and when Caucaunibuca sped onto Morlaes’ pass, Gloucester were staring into space again. They regrouped quickly enough to stop the initial surge but the scrum-half arrived to feed play to the left where prop Pieter van Niekerk bundled over to make it 15-9.

The warning lights were beginning to flash now. Gloucester hit back, the hugely impressive Jake Boer led the charge with a series of pounding carries and when Peter Buxton also slammed into Agen’s defence and Richards linked twice in the move, Allen’s wonderful sense of space and quick feet took him through the cover for the try after 35 minutes.

If that was supposed to be the wake-up call for Gloucester, it didn’t arrive. Only five minutes into the second half Agen were in for their third try when number eight Thomas Soucaze burst onto a short midfield pass to go the distance.

And only nine minutes later, Agen claimed the bonus point of all things with a try of such quality it came from nothing.

They used off the top line-out ball on half-way, Miquel took play infield before sending that man Caucaunibuca racing through an alarming gap and he was able to send replacement Conrad Stoltz in for the fourth try and establish a 29-14 lead.

The game was virtually up and it was not until Olivier Azam added his weight and power to Gloucester’s loose play that they began to create some momentum.

It was Azam’s midfield turnover that created Gloucester’s second try after Luke Narraway had taken up the reigns through the middle. The ball was recycled to Allen and he danced a magic trick or two to beat the cover and go in for his second try.

Five minutes later Azam collected his own try when he was bundled over from a line-out and suddenly, Gloucester only trailed by three points – 29-26.

But it would have been rough justice had Agen not won the game and Francois Gelez sealed the victory with a 74th minute drop-goal that leaves Gloucester’s European dream in tatters.

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