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Four-try Gloucester keep up pressure at the top

17 Mar 2007
Four-try Gloucester keep up pressure at the top

Gloucester kept tabs on Leicester at the top of the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP after continuing their unbeaten run in the league at Kingsholm.

With glorious sunshine beating down on Kingsholm, Gloucester’s plans centred around their hugely creative back division.

But first they had to deal with Harlequins’ pack without influential Italian pair Marco Bortolami and Carlos Nieto and the injured Christian Califano.

Harlequins gave nothing away in close quarters and although they hinted at causing problems on the break, early cracks in their defence translated into full-scale chasms within minutes.

At the first opportunity, Gloucester spun the ball through their backs with James Simpson-Daniel and James Bailey combining down the right wing to take the home side to within five metres.

Tani Fuga overthrew the line-out straight into Nick Wood’s hands and the England A prop thudded over the line.

Willie Walker slotted the conversion and a penalty as the title challengers coolly asserted their authority.

Quick ball wide through Andy Hazell sent winger James Bailey stumbling past Mike Brown for the try, which Walker converted.

But with half-an-hour gone, Quins started to find their feet. Stuart Abbott got them moving at pace through the middle of the park, and after two threatening were hauled back for forward passes, Adrian Jarvis notched their first points with a penalty.

Then Simon Keogh capitalised as one of a three-man overlap after Anthony Allen lost the ball in a big tackle and then Peter Richards could not hang on to Jarvis’ bouncer.

Jarvis skewed his conversion, and Walker did the same with a penalty three minutes later before Gloucester reasserted control.

Ryan Lamb made a deft pick-up on the halfway line and timed a swift pass infield for Forrester, who slipped Keogh’s half-hearted advance to race clear to the line.

Walker converted to send the Cherry and Whites into the interval leading 24-8.

Williams scooted over, again on an overlap following a series of quick rucks, two minutes into the second half to make a game of it, although replacement fly-half Andrew Mehrtens could do no better with the conversion.

After 20 minutes of sparring, Gloucester eased their way to a bonus point. With Fuga in the sinbin for a high tackle on Bailey, Walker, having pulled a second penalty wide, slotted his next from 40 metres before converting a stunning try by Mark Foster.

Richards, Hazell, Brown, captain Peter Buxton and replacement hooker Mefin Davies swept Gloucester to Quins’ 22, where Lamb lofted a lateral kick into Foster’s hands for the winger to score unhindered.

Quins secured a bonus point of their own in the final six minutes when Fuga was driven over and Brown dived under the posts following some quick thinking by Steve So’oialo.

Mehrtens finally notched some points with the injury-time conversion.


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