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PREVIEW: Kvesic targets Gloucester history

Tuesday 10th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Gloucester Rugby flanker Matt Kvesic wants to do what no side has done before and retain the European Rugby Challenge Cup. - 10/11/2015 12:24

Gloucester Rugby flanker Matt Kvesic wants to do what no side has done before and retain the European Rugby Challenge Cup. - 10/11/2015 12:24

Gloucester Rugby flanker Matt Kvesic wants to do what no side has done before and retain the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The Cherry and Whites overcame Edinburgh Rugby in a tense Twickenham Stoop final last season to lift their first piece of European silverware for nine seasons. Gloucester have the chance to do what no team has done and win back-to-back Challenge Cup titles – after they failed to reach the Champions Cup with the last kick of their play-off with Bordeaux Begles.

The English side start their defence against Zebre at Kingsholm on Saturday – a side who have already overcome last season’s beaten finalists Edinburgh Rugby and quarter-finalists Cardiff Blues in the opening block of Guinness Pro12 fixtures. Director of rugby David Humphreys will be able to call on his international charges. All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush arrived in the West Country last week and could be set to make his long-awaited debut in-front of the Kingsholm crowd.

And last season’s star man Kvesic wants to forget about Gloucester’s slow start to the Aviva Premiership season and get back on the winning trail in Europe.

He said: “We won the competition last season and it’s something that we want to retain. I don’t think anyone has done that so we want to go in and do as well as we can. We’ve lost a couple of games we should have won and we want to get that momentum back up. We have a good chance now to win a few games on the bounce and get that momentum back to where it needs to be.”

Match Facts

  • Gloucester won all nine games in the competition last year and a win against Zebre would set a club record for most consecutive wins in the competition.
  • Gloucester have faced Zebre twice in the Challenge Cup, wining both games and scoring over 30 points in each.
  • Zebre have won two of their six Challenge Cup fixtures, both of which came against French side Brive.
  • No Italian team has beaten an English side in the Challenge Cup since December 2007 when Calvisano beat Leeds Carnegie.

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REPORT: Gloucester make it 10 from 10

Saturday 14th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Supérieurs aux Italiens

Supérieurs aux Italiens

Gloucester Rugby are chasing a place in European club rugby history – but they ultimately made heavy work against a battling and never-say-die Zebre team in their Pool 4 clash at a wet and windy Kingsholm Stadium.

The defending European Rugby Challenge Cup champions did end up 23-10 winners but they failed to add any points in the second half to let a potential bonus point slip from their grasp.
No club has ever won back-to-back titles in this tournament and while that is the ground-breaking target for Gloucester they will be far from satisfied with their second half display.
Nevertheless it was a 10th successive tournament win for the Cherry and Whites who will travel to La Rochelle in Round 2 hoping to make it 11 from 11.
Zebre – with just two wins from their previous 18 contests over three seasons in Europe, home and away against Brive last year – made early headway with forward drives from the line-outs but with less than eight minutes gone a flowing attack produced a fine corner try for wing Henry Purdy.
Outside half Billy Burns and flanker Ross Moriarty were prominent in the build-up to have the home faithful cheering on their feet and then when TMO Dermot Moloney was called into action by Irish referee Andrew Brace he ruled that Moriarty had just made the whitewash with two defenders unable to deny the Welsh international.
Heineken Man-of-the-Match Burns added an excellent conversion to make it a whirlwind point-a-minute start from David Humphreys’ men, the 21-year then on target with a couple of simple penalty goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Things had certainly died down on the try front as the greasy conditions certainly made things more difficult.
But the wait for try No 3 was worth every second of the wait, an early candidate for try of the round coming courtesy of some sweet off-loading and support play with Callum Braley, Lewis Ludlow and Mark Atkinson heavily involved.
It was left to strong-running right wing Stevie McColl to provide the finishing touches from a fair way out to put them 23 points clear at the break.
The try bonus point was the next target for livewire skipper Jacob Rowan and his team-mates but the Italians started the half the stronger – Ludlow sent to kick his heels in the sine bin for 10 minutes after a general flare-up.
And his absence saw Zebre punish Gloucester with 10 points to warn the home side they were far from home and dry.
The depleted Gloucester pack were sent into rapid retreat at a close range scrum and referee Brace had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try to open the Italians’ account.
Outside half Edoardo Padovani added the conversion and penalty before Gloucester were restored to full strength but with the Zebre pack ruling the scrums at this stage as it was a real contest going into the final quarter.
New recruit and former All Black Jeremy Thrush marked his club debut with a solid performance before departing with 15 minutes to go and try-scorer Moriarty was back in defence to deny Zebre a second five-pointer.
The home eight also rose to the challenge at another attacking Italian scrum to prompt much back slapping but the elusive fourth try eluded them to leave them chasing that 11th straight win over in France on Thursday night.

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