GLOUCESTER'S Guinness A Team side produced a brave and spirited performance but went down to Bristol 38-24 at Clifton last night.
Gloucester led for much of the contest and Bristol left it late, coming from behind in the final seven minutes, but could have had the game won by that time with seven kicks at goal going astray.
The home side edged ahead in the early stages thanks to a Danny Gray penalty which was quickly cancelled out by a penalty from Mark Davies.
Bristol then went back in front in fortunate fashion. A Gray penalty attempt hit the post and Gloucester fumbled the rebound. Bristol recycled and Luke Arscott put Craig Short in for the first try of the evening.
But Gloucester hit back with another Davies penalty and then went in front after a Brad Davies kick downfield took a wicked bounce and wrong footed the defence. Davies scored, his brother converted and the visitors led 8-13 after 17 minutes.
Bristol drew level after a five metre catch and drive was repelled but possession maintained through several phases before Craig Short went over for his second score.
Mark Davies put Gloucester back in front with a 28th minute penalty and there was no further score before half-time although both kickers missed shots at goal.
Davies and Gray swapped penalties to make the score 16-19 but Gray missed a chance to level matters on 53 minutes.
However, Gloucester's lead did not last and Bristol went ahead after 65 minutes when former Kingsholm prop Mark Irish touched down after a catch and drive. Gray missed the conversion and missed a penalty attempt shortly afterwards and Gloucester took full advantage when Hartpury College openside Ejike Uzonigue scored after 73 minutes to make the score 21-24.
Bristol then threw everything into attack. Greg Nicholls put Luke Arscott in for a score down the blindside and Gray converted from the touchline for 28-24.
Gray added another penalty and Gloucester had to resort to desperate measures to try and rescue a draw. Running the ball from behind their own line, an ambitious chip found only Arscott and, after several phases of possession, Dave Attwood got the killer try. Gray converted for a 38-24 final score.
In a full-on contest, 32 penalties were awarded and for Gloucester scrum-half Haydn Thomas had a lively first-half, the Davies brothers also impressed and the second rows had a lively battle.
Gloucester's next home game is against London Irish at Kingsholm next Monday, 7.30pm kick-off.
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
The Gloucester Rugby Half Term Rugby Camps got off to a great start on Monday morning, with over 60 young rugby players braving the chilly weather to experience a great day of skills, learning and fun thanks to the Gloucester Rugby Community Department.
A number of Gloucester Rugby's promising young players are currently playing their competitive rugby on loan at other clubs, and six of them featured in Saturday's game between London Welsh and Rotherham Titans.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.