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PREVIEW: Gloucester aiming for Kingsholm quarter

Tuesday 12th January 2016

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

Only two teams have won in the Challenge Cup at Kingsholm since the inaugural season in 1996/97 and one of them was La Rochelle.

There may be no chance of the Top 14 side going through to the quarter-finals, but they could emulate their 24-18 win in the west country from the 2010/11 campaign when they became the last team to beat Gloucester at home in a pool match in the tournament.

Not even three yellow cards and a red could stop the French raiders avenging their 13-6 home defeat a week earlier and that victory derailed home hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. Charlie Sharples and Nick Wood are the sole Gloucester survivors from that game, while La Rochelle have none.

Gloucester picked up a 33-20 win in La Rochelle, with skipper Greig Laidlaw plundering 14 points with his boot, and will be seeking a 14th straight victory in the tournament and a seventh in a row at home. Unbeaten in their four games to date, the key for them is to pick up a home draw in the quarter-finals.

“One of the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season was to become the first team to retain the Challenge Cup and to be able to do that we all know that having home advantage in the knock-out stage is absolutely essential,” admitted director of rugby David Humphreys.

“The next two games are important from that perspective, regardless of records. We want to ensure that come the end of the Pool stages we have a home quarter-final at Kingsholm.

“We haven’t really considered the fact that this season the winners of the Challenge Cup get an automatic entry into the Champions Cup. Towards the end of last year when we knew we weren’t going to be in the top six we knew we had a route into the Champions Cup via the play-off if we won the Challenge Cup.

“It is a bit easier this year without the play-offs, but that is a long way away. Get into the knock-out stages and then look forward to some big games.”

Despite losing in horrendous conditions at Exeter last weekend Humphreys is happy with the commitment from his players. Exeter Chiefs preyed on three first-half errors to win the game 19-10, but it could have been a different story, especially in better weather.

“It seems like a lifetime ago that we were watching the World Cup being played in such good conditions. There have only been two games out of 13 this season in which we have had decent weather,” said Humphreys.

“We all want to have some ambition to play, but you need decent conditions to pull it off. We would all like to see better weather this weekend.”

While Gloucester were losing in Exeter, La Rochelle warmed-up for their return to European action with a weekend off. They beat Castres Olympique 25-21 in their last outing on 2 January.

Match Facts

  • Gloucester Rugby enjoy a strong record against La Rochelle having won four of their previous five encounters in this competition.
  • Gloucester have won their last seven home matches, their second longest home streak in the competition, conceding only 62 points in that period.
  • La Rochelle have scored only eight points in their last three away games and have lost each of their last five away fixtures, though they won five straight away games prior to that averaging 30 points per game in that run.
  • La Rochelle have the worst goal kicking rate in the Challenge Cup this season (53%).

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REPORT: Gloucester see off spirited La Rochelle

Saturday 16th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Opposé au champion en titre pour son dernier match à l'extérieur de la saison en European Rugby Challenge Cup

Opposé au champion en titre pour son dernier match à l'extérieur de la saison en European Rugby Challenge Cup

Gloucester maintained their 100% record in pool four with a hard-fought victory over La Rochelle.

First half tries from Rob Cook and Billy Twlevetrees put the home side in control at half-time but they had to weather a storm in the second period to come away with the win.

David Humphreys’ men are five from five at the top of pool four and they will be able to rest players for next week’s trip to Zebre with a home quarter-final guaranteed.

Captain Greig Laidlaw nudged the home side in front with an early penalty before La Rochelle outside-half Fabien Fortassin missed the chance to draw them level when his first penalty struck the post.

Gloucester full-back Cook scored the game’s first try with a superb individual effort, collecting a cross-field kick and showing a lovely array of skills to break the La Rochelle line and sprint over.

A yellow card for lock Leandro Cedaro put La Rochelle at a disadvantage but they soon had their first points on the board thanks to a Julien Audy penalty.

The home side grabbed their second score in bizarre fashion just before the break when the La Rochelle defence stopped still hoping for a referee’s whistle and Twlevetrees was left to go half the length of the field.

Gloucester came under pressure at the start of the second period and lost Mark Atkinson to the sin bin for handling the ball on the floor.

La Rochelle got their first try 11 minutes after the break when Benjamin Lapeyre spun off the back of a ruck, with Audy adding the conversion.

Charlie Sharples went close to scoring twice in the final quarter but the home side could not add to their two first half tries.

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