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.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.