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PREVIEW: Gloucester seeking clean-sweep

Thursday 22nd January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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E' dei Cherry & White la vittoria più larga della prima giornata di Challenge Cup in cui altre 5 squadre hanno conquistato il successo con il bonus offensivo. - 19/10/2014 11:30

E' dei Cherry & White la vittoria più larga della prima giornata di Challenge Cup in cui altre 5 squadre hanno conquistato il successo con il bonus offensivo. - 19/10/2014 11:30

Gloucester have the chance to clinch the No 1 qualifying spot for the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals with 29 out of a maximum of 30 points if they can turn over Brive in their final Pool match.

The last time the west countrymen won all their Pool games in Europe, in 2012/13, they were undone in the quarter-finals at Kingsholm, losing 41-31 to Biarritz Olympique. But the last time they bagged the No 1 seeding was a different stroy

That was back in 2005/06 when they captured the Challenge Cup – beating Brive on their way to the title in the last eight. Having beaten the French side 55-0 at Kingsholm in the opening round this season there is every chance of them picking up another bonus point victory.

The Top 14 outfit haven’t made the Challenge Cup a top priority this season and have yet to win a game. Last weekend they were beaten by Zebre to concede an ignominious double to the Italian club.

Gloucester have made five changes to the side that beat Oyonnax 33-3 last weekend with Wasps-bound scrum half Dan Robson coming in at scrum half to replace Scottish international Greig Laidlaw.

“We have a bit of form in Europe and getting the home quarter-final with a game to go is very nice. There’s a lot of motivation and we want to keep up the momentum we’ve gained, put on a show and get another win,” said Robson.

“The home quarter-final may be locked down, but it would be nice to try and finish as top seeds as another little milestone. There’s still a lot to play for and a lot of players have a point to prove.

“Brive are a typical French side, big and physical, but they do like to play rugby. That matches up to us because we want to take it to them.

“Like most French grounds it will be an intimidating place to go and play and we know we have to start well in order to silence their crowd.”

Gloucester lock Tom Savage is preparing himself for a full-on contest and is expecting a much tougher test than Gloucester experienced in the opening round.

“Our big win over them in round one will count for nothing. They are on a better run in the Top 14 and they will be looking to build some momentum, targeting this game to try to put one over us and bounce that into their league form,” said Savage.

“It’s certainly going to be a big, hard challenge, a different game to when we played them at home and we have to play smart rugby.”

Brive won five out of six Pool games last season to reach the last eight before losing at Bath in the quarter-finals. And this season has seen them fall twice to Zebre and Oyonnax, as well as losing in Gloucester.

Match Facts

  • Gloucester have beaten Brive by an aggregate difference of 88 points in their two meetings in this competition.
  • Gloucester’s win over Brive in October marked the second time the French side had been nilled in Europe.
  • Brive have lost their last six Challenge Cup games in a row, in their previous 84 matches in the competition they had never lost more than two in a row.
  • Gloucester have won their last 13 Challenge Cup pool games in a row, their best ever run in the competition.


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REPORT: Gloucester are No 1!

Thursday 22nd January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Gloucester qualified as top seeds for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals after completing a scrappy win in Brive. - 22/01/2015 22:05

Gloucester celebrate winning the 2006 Challenge Cup

Gloucester qualified as top seeds for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals after completing a scrappy win in Brive.

Matt Kvesic scored in either half to clinch a bonus point after Dan Robson crossed and a penalty try completed the 31-20 win. Gloucester had already secured top spot in Pool 5, but will now march into the last eight with a record equalling 29 points from 30 available.

The last time the Cherry & Whites won all six pool games in Europe and scored 29 match points, they went on to win this tournament in 2006.

Brive briefly threatened when they claimed a penalty try in the second half and James Hook became the second Gloucester player binned. But Brive, who also had two players shown yellow cards, failed to strike until Thomas Acquier’s late consolation score.

Riaan Swanepoel kicked the hosts 6-3 ahead at Stade Amedee-Domenech but Gloucester claimed the opening try on 28 minutes when flanker Kvesic finished a powerful lineout drive. Henry Purdy and Mark Atkinson then combined before Robson won the foot-race to gran Gloucester’s second try for a 17-6 lead.

Brive prop Pat Barnard was binned for punching before the break only for David Halaifonua’s dangerous tackle on Romain Sola to level the numbers early in second-half. Brive were briefly reduced to 13 when replacement prop Karlen Asieshvili was shown a yellow card for collapsing the scrum.

Barnard returned from the bin but Gloucester made the extra man up front count by immediately winning a penalty try with the scrum. Hook converted again for a 24-6 lead. Purdy saved a try with a tackle on Guillaume Namy after Robson’s ill-judged pass

But Brive did score on 56 minutes when Gloucester’s forward were penalised for deliberately dragging down a maul as the French forwards rumbled towards the line. Swanepoel’s conversion cut the gap to 24-13 and Hook was binned following a break by Sevenaia Galala.

However, Gloucester closed ranks before Kvesic barged through tackles to clinch the bonus point seven minutes from time. Nicolas Bezy converted a late, consolation try from replacement hooker Thomas Acquier.

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