GLOUCESTER made it three wins out of three in the Guinness A League last night with a comprehensive six-try success over Leicester.
When they combined their slickness in attack with some dangerous and powerful running, Gloucester were too strong for an inexperienced Leicester side, who managed one try through full-back Rickie Aley late on but were well beaten 45-8.
There were some impressive and disciplined performances on the Gloucester side and once they got into their attacking stride, simply over-whelmed a Tigers side that operated for much of the night without a regular supply of territory or possession.
Gloucester's back three of Mark Foster, Charlie Sharples and Iain Balshaw menaced throughout. Foster, physical and strong, crossed once and looked dangerous every time he carried the ball, Sharples collected a hat-trick and Balshaw got through 60 minutes on his return from a groin injury.
Gloucester had more than enough possession for Foster and the like to strut their stuff in the first-half but there were also impressive performances from number eight Andres Pretorious, who was safe as houses under the re-starts and carried hard into the contact area and flanker Guy Thompson, who was quick and aggressive throughout.
Hooker Scott Lawson was also accurate at line-out time and was dynamic going forward and after Foster and Balshaw had combined to break free down the left, Ryan Lamb kicked Gloucester into a second minute lead with a penalty.
Then, two minutes later, Gloucester got their first try. They controlled a scrum close to the sticks and Pretorious and scrum-half Jordi Pasqualin combined before Sharples finished off in the corner.
Their 8-0 lead soon became 15-0 when Foster surged forward and Henry Trinder finished off following more good work from Pasqualin and a lovely pass from Lamb. An inexperienced Tigers side gave it their utmost in the set-piece and through the powerful surges of Manu Tuilagi, but Gloucester were slicker and faster.
Foster was the next on the score-sheet when Lamb and the equally impressive Freddie Burns made sizeable midfield holes and the winger was able to score comfortably down the left to make it 22-0.
The try blitz was interrupted by a succession of penalties - Aley's 27th minute effort got Leicester on the board - but Gloucester responded with two from Lamb after 31 and 35 minutes to take the hosts 28-3 clear.
But there was still time in the first-half for Gloucester to secure their bonus point try. Dave Young carried hard and as the Gloucester forwards churned out yet more possession, Pasqualin, Lamb and Balshaw all used the ball well for Sharples to grab his second.
In the second half, Gloucester struggled to re-create their potency, despite dominating the contest for long periods. To Leicester's credit, they worked wonderfully hard in defence and tried desperately to go from deep but they were out-gunned for the majority of the contest.
The contest was deep into the final quarter before Gloucester scored their fifth try. The impressive Burns launched the move before Gloucester dragged play to the right and Sharples collected his hat-trick in the corner.
There was still time for Leicester to get their try when the powerfully constructed Tuilagi carried hard and Aley finished off the move in the far corner to make it 40-8.
But Gloucester had the final say when Trinder scored try number six to ease Gloucester to a highly commanding victory.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Gloucester Rugby have added to their front row strength in depth for next season with the signings of Paul Doran-Jones, Paddy McAllister and Nicky Thomas from Harlequins, Aurillac and the Ospreys respectively.
Connacht's 30-20 win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening means that they are the third best placed runners up and will come to Kingsholm for the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup in early April.