Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 24 Newport Gwent Dragons 13
Gloucester Rugby defence coach Jonny Bell insists his side will return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action in high spirits after a confidence-boosting victory in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Though the Cherry & Whites had left it too late to progress from their group, faces both old and new delivered an accomplished performance to dispatch Newport Gwent Dragons.
Cameron Orr and Henry Trinder – the centre making his first appearance at Kingsholm since recovering from a long-term knee injury – scored the crucial tries either side of half-time.
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) February 4, 2017
Promising young scrum-half Ben Vellacott also popped up on the scoresheet and Bell admits the competition for places could not be stronger ahead of their clash with Leicester Tigers next week.
“You want these players putting their hands up and I think they did to that,” said Bell. “We talked about keeping momentum going, we want a successful club.
“If we can get real strength and quality down through the club, get hungry, determined players pushing for first-team selection, it makes it all that more difficult. We’re going to Welford Road, it’s a tough place to go, but we’re going with confidence.”
“From the kick-off right through until the end, they fronted up massively physically and got themselves in some really good position attack-wise. We defended well and rolled our sleeves up in difficult conditions underfoot. I thought they were outstanding.
The game ended on a sour note however as centre Elliot Creed suffered a serious-looking injury, and Bell added: “It’s a nasty ankle injury so our thoughts are all with them.
“He’s a tough kid and we’ve no doubt he will be back fit again as soon as he possibly can. We hope he makes a speedy recovery.”
— Ben Vellacott (@BenjiVellacott9) February 4, 2017
Matthew Screech had given the Dragons momentary hope but nothing was to stop Gloucester clinching their fifth victory in a row in all competitions.
A defeat to Northampton Saints back in November before last week’s draw with Bath Rugby had effectively ended Gloucester’s chances in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, but Bell says the competition has served his side well.
“You’re trying to give young players some gametime and more experienced guys who have come back from injury, like Henry Trinder and Sione Kalamafoni – they need to play rugby,” said Bell. “They acquitted themselves really well so I thought the Anglo-Welsh Cup has been great for us all-in-all.”
Gloucester: Protheroe; Halaifonua, Trinder, Creed, Hudson; Evans, Braley (Vellacott 56); Orr (Y Thomas 60), Matu’u (Dawidiuk 22), Ma’afu (McNulty 40); Batley (Latta 60), Denton; Kalamafoni (Beckett 54), D Thomas, Clarke (Safe 69)
Not used: Purdy
Dragons: Meyer; Hughes, Morgan, Dixon (Beard 60), Prydie; Jones (O’Brien 70), Davies (Knoyle 70); Hobbs (T Davies 52), T R Thomas (Buckley 41), Fairbrother (Mitchell 60); Screech, Sweet; J Thomas (Blake 55), Cudd, Crosswell (Landman 52)
Tries: Orr, Trinder, Vellacott
Conversions: Evans 3
Tries: Screech 2
Referee: Rhys Thomas