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.
Skipper for the day Aled Thomas praised his Gloucester team mates, especially the younger ones, for the way they took on a tough Ospreys outfit and emerged victorious in the LV= Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Gloucester will field a reshuffled side against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup this weekend, but Backs & Attack Coach Nick Walshe stressed that it's a great opportunity for everyone on duty on Saturday and that maintaining the recent winning run is very important.
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 Rugby and the Ospreys shared seven tries and 57 points in the LV= Cup at Kingsholm on Saturday. The Cherry and Whites came out on top and the club photographer captured the best of the action.