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Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 35-13 Bristol Bears

14 Sep 2018
Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 35-13 Bristol Bears

A brace from Charlie Sharples ensured Gloucester Rugby maintained their unbeaten record as they dispatched Bristol Bears in their second West Country derby in a week.

The Cherry and Whites soared to the top of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table with a 35-13 bonus-point victory against the league newcomers at Kingsholm.

Bristol did not make it easy for the hosts as they took a 13-3 lead into the break thanks to a try from Luke Morahan and eight points from the boot of Ian Madigan.

But Gloucester – inspired by a man-of-the-match performance from Jake Polledri on his first start of the season – roared back with five second-half tries, with Sharples crossing twice and Gerbrandt Grobler, Ed Slater and Matt Banahan also on the scoreboard.

The visitors, who last won against Gloucester in 2008, hogged possession in the opening stages but were pegged back inside their own 22m line by relentless defending from the hosts.

Yet Bears showed plenty of ambition and adventure as they attempted play out from the back until a penalty provided them with relief – and a chance to clear their lines.

The hosts then took the lead through Billy Twelvetrees as he capitalised on Bristol’s indiscipline at the breakdown to convert a penalty after nine minutes.

Bristol’s response was almost immediate, though, as they went straight back down the opposite end and cancelled it out with a penalty of their own, converted by Madigan.

And it was the Irish international who provided the moment of class that set up the opening try of the game. He threaded a grubber kick through that bounced up perfectly for Steven Luatua, who offloaded to Morahan to put the winger in.

Madigan added the extras to give Bristol an early 10-3 lead, before his opposite number, Danny Cipriani, made his first impression on the game with a break to set Gloucester away.

His pass inside found Matt Banahan, who carried the ball further forward, but Cipriani’s attempted kick through failed to find the run off Jason Woodward as the full-back was ushered off the ball.

Gloucester’s inability to keep hold of possession cost them further just before the half-hour mark, with Madigan taking advantage of another penalty with three more points.

The Kingsholm faithful were eventually given a chance to stretch their vocal chords just before half-time as Gloucester went close to opening their try account on two occasions, but Bristol’s dogged defence ensured the visitors took a 13-3 lead into the break.

Clearly out to prove a point at the start of the second-half, Gloucester bolted out the gate and closed the gap with a try from Grobler on his debut, with Twelvetrees converting.

Gloucester smelt blood and with the majority of the 14,197 in attendance cheering them on, they began to pile the pressure on Bristol and forced a penalty deep inside the visitors’ own half.

Madigan compounded his side’s problems by kicking the ball away in frustration, forcing Bristol back a further 10 metres, before George Smith was sent to the bin after being penalised at the ruck.

With Bristol reeling, Gloucester capitalised on the man advantage with a driving maul from the lineout as Cipriani linked with Sharples for the hosts’ second try, which Twelvetrees converted in front of the posts.

The visitors were now on the back foot and when Callum Braley spotted Sharples in space out wide, he fed the winger for his 50th try for the Cherry and Whites.

Despite Smith returning to the field, Bristol remained unable to get a grip on the game and Slater barged over the whitewash to secure the bonus point for Gloucester on 65 minutes.

Twelvetrees soon added to Bristol’s misery with a penalty, before Bristol’s frustration began to boil over as the two sets of players became involved in a tussle.

There was also still time for one last intervention from Banahan, who followed up his late try against Bath Rugby last week with another in the dying seconds to seal the victory in style.

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