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Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 35-13 Bristol Bears

Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 35-13 Bristol Bears

Gloucester Rugby’s dominance over their West Country rivals Bristol Bears continued on Friday night as they came from behind to claim victory at Kingsholm.

It’s been ten years since Bristol last claimed derby bragging rights over Gloucester, but Pat Lam’s side were unable to break the drought as they slipped to a 35-13 defeat.

For the second week running, the visitors were unable to hold on to a first-half lead after Luke Morahan’s try and Ian Madigan’s boot saw Bristol go into the break 13-3 ahead.

The hosts took advantage of a high penalty count from the Bears as they roared back into the contest after half-time through a try from debutant Gerbrandt Grobler.

Charlie Sharples then crossed twice – notching his 50th Gloucester try in the process – before Ed Slater and Matt Banahan capped off the second-half fightback in style.

The bonus-point victory, courtesy of 32 unanswered points after the break, ensured Gloucester maintained their unbeaten start to the season and saw them move top of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table.

MAN OF THE MATCH

While much of the pre-game hype surrounded Danny Cipriani, it was Jake Polledri who stood head and shoulders above his teammates on his first start of the season.

The 22-year-old flanker, who was previously on Bristol’s books, continued where he left off last season as he delivered another mighty performance in the cherry and white jersey.

Polledri was absolutely everywhere against his former side, making 19 carries and running 80 metres with the ball in hand – more than any other player on the pitch.

He also topped the charts for the most defenders beaten after leaving nine players in his wake, while three offloads and 11 tackles rounded off a near flawless showing.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Gloucester may have crossed the whitewash five times in the second half, but the first try of the match from Bristol Bears was the pick of the bunch.

The move started near the halfway line as John Afoa made ground against his former side,  before Harry Randall spread the ball wide to Ian Madigan.

Having initially looked for the pass on his outside, the Irish international instead opted for a perfectly judged grubber kick after spotting space behind the Gloucester defence.

With Jason Woodward in two minds, the ball popped up perfectly for the onrushing Steven Luatua, who provided a one-handed offload to Luke Morahan to race in from 22m.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

George Smith was cleared to play against Gloucester after he avoided punishment for a dangerous tackle against Saracens, but his yellow card at Kingsholm proved costly.

Bristol already had their backs against the wall at the start of the second half when the Australian was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball on his own line.

The hosts – and, in particular, Charlie Sharples – took advantage of the 14 men immediately as they orchestrated two tries from lineouts that followed penalties.

Sharples was the beneficiary of both and reached the milestone of 50 tries for Gloucester in the process, which was recognised with a standing ovation by the Kingsholm faithful when he was subbed at the end.

WHAT THEY SAID

Bristol Bears head coach Pat Lam said: “We had a penalty count of 20-8 against, our discipline was not good enough and it did not allow us to get a foot hold in the game. 

“We came here to attack and put them under pressure, because they are a big team, but when you give away penalties you give them an easy way back into the game. 

“One time we gave a penalty on their own 22 and they we gave away two penalties inside our half, so it’s an area we need to be honest with ourselves and get sorted.

“Some of our core skills were not good enough. I want the players to play without fear but some of their skills, when to catch, when to pass, were not good enough.”

Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann said: “Credit to Pat and his coaching team, they stick to the way they want to play, the brand of rugby they want to play.

“We made it quite clear that we were not happy with the way we played, the intensity we played at, we looked disorganised, we didn’t work hard enough for each other.

“We just cleared up that communication and said we had to be more direct before we can get the space, but the players knew they were not performing well [in the first half].

“It wasn’t really anything tactically that we needed to fix, it was more the physicality and the mental side that we needed to fix – so I just challenged the guys.”

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