Quinton Davids made his Kingsholm debut on Monday night
GLOUCESTER got back to winning ways in the Guinness A League on Monday night with a five-try victory over leaders Harlequins.
In a contest that was always competitive and not as free-flowing as previous matches at Kingsholm this season, a crowd touching 3,000 saw Gloucester scrap their way to a 35-24 victory.
But Harlequins were never anything other than competitive and with flanker Luke Sherriff and number eight Tony Diprose at the head of a powerful forward effort, Gloucester needed all the experience of Mark Cornwell, Quinton Davids, Nick Wood and Luke Narraway to contain them.
Harlequins opened with a second minute penalty from Adrian Jarvis but Gloucester responded when hooker Rob Elloway intercepted a pass 30 metres out and ran home clinically to score.
Brad Davies kicked the conversion and a penalty soon after to stretch the lead to 13-3 but Quins rallied and centre Mike Brown bundled himself through an alarming gap in Gloucester's midfield to score to the left of the posts after 13 minutes.
However, Gloucester struck back with their second try when Narraway charged down Luther Marais's kick from full-back, controlled the ball and scored.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued when Harlequins used the experience of Diprose at the tail of a line-out and lock Kevin Burke charged through on his pass to score and cut the gap to 18-17.
But Gloucester were to score again before the break when Davids tapped a line-out down to Simon Amor, Davies fed Marcel Garvey coming in off his wing into centre field. When possession came back, Davies kicked in behind the Quins defence and Olly Morgan, making his first appearance of the season following a thigh injury, steamed through to score.
The home side then took themselves 13-points clear when Amor and Anthony Allen combined to send James Bailey wriggling to the line after 51 minutes.
However, the home side could not shake Quins off and they reduced the gap to six points when winger Charlie Amesbury slid home to score following patient build up play after 66 minutes.
There was the very real danger that Quins could snatch a victory at this stage but Gloucester sealed the win when Elloway turned over possession and the excellent Will Matthews shifted a lovely pass under pressure on the short side to Marcel Garvey, who blitzed home to score.
GLOUCESTER: Olly Morgan; Marcel Garvey, Anthony Allen (Will Merrivale 66), Reuban Aiano, James Bailey; Brad Davies, Simon Amor; Nick Wood (Terry Sigley 60), Rob Elloway, Jack Forster (Nick Wood 70), Mark Cornwell (capt), Quinton Davids (Dan Tuohy 58), Will Matthews, James Merriman, Luke Narraway.
Scorers: Tries: Morgan, Garvey, Bailey, Elloway, Narrway. Cons: Davies (2/5), Pens: Davies (2/2).
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
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.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).