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 to the local media this week, back row flanker Jacob Rowan said that he is excited for the challenge at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, and added that the players know the responsibility is theirs to deliver against the league leaders.
Ben Morgan was on media duty this week, and as Gloucester prepare for Sunday's trip to Wasps, the number eight is looking forward to see Gloucester go toe-to-toe with another of the Aviva Premiership's front runners.
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester battled bravely against Wasps on Sunday, but it was a case of taking chances at the Ricoh Arena. Gloucester didn't make the most of theirs while Wasps did, and that proved to be the difference.
Gloucester were competitive for long periods at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon, but were left to rue a host of missed scoring opportunities throughout as Wasps hit back to earn a 35-22 Aviva Premiership win.
Gloucester's Ciaran Knight made his first start at tighthead prop, Henry Walker made his first appearance as a second half replacement and Alex Seville also featured as England U20s might it three from three in the U20s Six Nations with a 46-0 win over Italy in Darlington on Friday night.