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.
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.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.