Gloucester moved into fourth place in the Guinness Premiership and guaranteed themselves Heineken Cup rugby next season with a bonus-point win over relegated Leeds at Headingley.
The visitors scored tries through Mike Tindall, Peter Richards, Andy Hazell and James Simpson Daniel, but the game had an end-of-season feel to it on a day that Tykes’ director of rugby Phil Davies announced he would be leaving his post after next week’s game with Newcastle.
Gloucester improved steadily as the game wore on, and finished by playing some attractive rugby with an exciting looking backline including a terrific prospect in the shape of 19-year-old fly-half Ryan Lamb.
Lamb formed an effective half-back partnership with Peter Richards as Gloucester dominated the game in front of a disappointing crowd of just 4,452 to run out 31-7 winners.
The Tykes never threatened to get into their stride, despite scoring an excellent first-half try through winger Tom Biggs, and it proved a sad farewell to Headingley for Davies and prop Mike Shelley alike.
Gloucester ran in three second-half tries, and look to be hitting form at just the right time, although they will want to improve on the number of handling mistakes they made in the opening stages.
It was a scrappy beginning to the contest as both sides looked to put some width on the ball but let themselves down with a bewildering succession of handling errors.
It took 16 minutes for Gloucester to open the scoring when Lamb slotted a simple penalty after Leeds infringed at the breakdown.
England centre Tindall stretched the visitors’ lead when he spotted a gap in the Leeds defence and outpaced Chris Murphy for the score. Lamb added the extras to make it 10-0.
Shelley, making his final appearance at Headingley after more than 200 games for the club, nearly went over for a try but was held up over the line after a quickly-taken tapped penalty.
Leeds finally got on the scoreboard just before the break when Gordon Ross exploited space behind the Gloucester defence with a delightfully-weighted chip that Biggs was able to gather and speed over in the corner. Ross’ conversion made it 10-7 at the break.
Gloucester responded soon after the half-time when a succession of forward drives resulted in the impressive Andy Hazell crashing over for a try following a neat pass from Richards. Lamb converted to restore the lead to 10 points.
Scrum-half Richards wriggled over for Gloucester’s third try in the 55th minute as Gloucester began to pull clear. Lamb’s conversion made it 24-7 to the visitors.
Simpson-Daniel went over for the bonus-point score as Gloucester finished the game in complete control, despite losing Alex Brown to the sin-bin.