MARK FOSTER'S dazzling try set Gloucester up for a hard-earned west country derby victory over Bristol last night.
The winger cut a devastating line off his wing from a line-out to combine with scrum-half Jimmy Williams and stand-off Ludovic Mercier to burst past Lee Robinson and use his pace to get round the cover to establish a commanding Gloucester lead they just managed to maintain in the 20-19 win.
Foster was instrumental in Gloucester's first try too. Foster burst through the defence to find Rudi Keil, who did brilliantly under heavy pressure to find Jon Goodridge and the full-back beat James Lumby to the posts.
Thereafter, Bristol used their superior tight forward game to unload wave after wave of pressure. Throught Craig Sharort and Mariano Sambucetti, they had two stand-out performers and when they kept the pressure on for long enough after 31 minutes, Sambucetti scored from close range.
Both teams made mistakes and turned the ball over but there was plenty of good work from Adam Eustace, Dan Tuohy and James Vernon against a heavier set of forwards.
However, Bristol reduced the deficit immediately after the interval when Sambucetti crossed from close range and this time Jason Strange converted to leave Gloucester 14-12 ahead.
The tide was with Bristol now and they penned Gloucester back for long periods. Only excellent Gloucester defence close to the line prevented even further damage but after 55 minutes Sambucetti completed his hat-trick to edge Bristol ahead.
Strange converted but in truth he had a horrid night. Soon after he slammed the post with a kickable penalty and the game changed. Mercier banged over three points for Gloucester and with some hard midfield running from Keil, Gloucester began to force mistakes.
They grafted hard around the fringes and when Short was sinbinned towards the end at a ruck, Mercier landed the winning penalty three minutes from time.
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.