GLOUCESTER'S electrifying start to the Guinness A League continued last night when they combined the precision, power and penetration of their forwards with some scintillating back play.
They followed their victory over Bath with an eight-try mauling of Wasps, running out 52-12 winners in front of a large and appreciative Kingsholm crowd.
From the lung-busting strides of James Merriman and the ceaseless efforts of Luke Narraway to the impish skills of Ryan Lamb, the pace of James Bailey and Marcel Garvey, Gloucester were superior throughout and provided a brilliant advert for A League rugby.
There were also powerful contributions from Terry Sigley, Jack Forster and Dean Miller as Gloucester set about the visitors from the first whistle.
They were already 6-0 ahead in the 14th minute when they grabbed their first try. Narraway somehow charged through a scrum up the middle of the field and linked with tearaway Merriman.
Possession was shipped to the left and Lamb's long pass picked out full-back Vince Lanciano who slid home in the far corner.
Gloucester made it 18-0 after 22 minutes following more incisive movement in the backs. Anthony Allen, a centre who picked threatening angles all night, made the crucial incision, Brad Davies offered support and through a thicket of defenders, James Bailey slashed his way to the line.
Bailey was to have a hand in the third try just before the break. His outside break close to the touchline was halted fractionally short of the line but he managed to pop his pass found Allen who lunged over.
Wasps' only response was a try from Tim Foster before the break but the one-way traffic continued after the interval. The predatory Lamb was next to cross - intercepting a pass in midfield and galloping away to score.
Gloucester's power up front began to tell - Sigley, Forster and Cornwell all turning the screw and Narraway's latest powerful surge was finished off by Merriman, who again showed excellent support instincts.
Merriman was to score again after 52 minutes when a powerful line-out drive in the far corner ended with the breakaway at the bottom of the pile to make it 40-7.
Wasps did make the most of a massive man advantage with 13 minutes remaining to create a second try for Foster, but it hardly mattered. Replacement Dan Touhy grabbed the seventh try when Lanciano fielded Davies' cross-field kick and he put the second row home.
And in the last minute, Allen, full of verve and swerve, linked with Bailey and Chris McNeill found his way home to complete the scoring.
GLOUCESTER: Vince Lanciano; James Bailey, Anthony Allen, Brad Davies, Marcel Garvey; Ryan Lamb, Danny Pointon; Terry Sigley, James Parkes, Jack Forster, Mark Cornwell, Jonathan Pendlebury, Dean Miller, James Merriman, Luke Narraway. Reps all used: Ben Gerry, Kevin Moran, Dan Touhy, Will Jones, George Evans, Tom Maynard, Chris McNeill.
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 may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
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.