ROB THIRLBY'S second half try sealed a Gloucester's victory in the Guinness A League against Bristol last night.
Gloucester won 18-14 on a typically cold night at Clifton RFC. A strong wind swept across the pitch, line-out work was difficult and turnovers frequent in a fractious game which threatened to spill over at times in the second half.
Gloucester outside half Ryan Lamb opened the scoring with a penalty after 10 minutes but Bristol hit back with a try six minutes later.
Geraint Lewis broke from the base of a scrum and offloaded to Ulia Ulia who was tackled. The ball was recycled to Danny Gray who took advantage of the long in goal areas to Clifton and weighted a grubber kick nicely for Sean Marsden to touch down. Gray converted for a 7-3 lead.
Lamb then missed a penalty after 28 minutes and then scrum-half James Donovan almost scored after a nice break and chip and chase. However, Greg Nicholls beat him to the touchline.
However, Gloucester were back in front two minutes later. Bristol lost control of a line-out five metres from their own line and skipper Mark Cornwell scored from close range. Lamb converted to make the score 7-10.
Former Bristol flanker Ben Gerry was yellow carded after 38 minutes for persistent infringement but Bristol couldn't take advantage and Gloucester maintained their lead.
Bristol made changes at half-time with Neil Clark replacing Saul Nelson and Andy Reay coming on for Manu Contepomi.
But Gloucester were quickest off the mark and Lamb missed a penalty after 45 minutes but was on target after 49 minutes to stretch their lead to 7-13.
When tempers started to fray, Jon Pritchard was yellow carded for a high tackle and Neil Clark escaped with a warning.
As the game went entered the final 10 minutes, Bristol re-took the lead and threatened to win the match. From a set scrum, Gray made a nice break and offloaded to Mark Denney, who took a nice angle to score. Gray converted for a 14-13 lead.
However, Gloucester hit back when Brad Davies made a break from a tap penalty and threw out a long pass for Rob Thirlby to score wide out. Lamb's conversion was off target but Gloucester had the lead at 14-18.
Bristol's final roll of the dice was to introduce Tom Fidler and Sam Brown and Brown almost inspired a long breakaway but was caught as he waited for support and Gloucester could celebrate a priceless victory.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).