Gloucester Rugby never seemed to get going at Ashton Gate on Saturday, as ill-discipline allowed Bristol Bears to build a lead through the boot of Callum Sheedy before the home team turned on the style in the second half to run out 34-16 winners in this Gallagher Premiership clash.
It was a tough day at the office for the Cherry and Whites, who gave as good as they got in the first half hour and, despite looking well below their fluent best, were still in touch with the score at nine points apiece.
However, a couple of late penalties from Sheedy just before half-time gave the Bears a 15-9 advantage at the interval and they didn’t look back in the second half. Starved of possession, Gloucester Rugby had to work hard in defence and the effort of doing so finally took its toll.
Former favourites Henry Purdy and Mat Protheroe both crossed for tries against the club where they first made their name, bookending another try for Bristol from Luke Morahan. Freddie Clarke crashed over late on, but it was scant consolation.
Gloucester Rugby didn’t look on their game from the off, but battled hard and Callum Sheedy and Owen Williams swapped penalties as the respective try lines were rarely threatened.
But Bristol made a decisive on 44 minutes when Alapati Leiua exploited a gap down the five metre channel and, when the ball was recycled, Purdy crashed over on the left wing, Sheedy converting.
The gap was now 22-9 and a seemingly tough mountain to climb for Gloucester Rugby. There was no lack of effort, but things just weren’t clicking.
Time ticked by and the self-belief of the home team grew. And the outcome was pretty much decided when Luke Morahan dived over in the corner after good work by the pack. Shortly afterwards Protheroe glided over and a try scoring bonus point looked likely.
However, the Cherry and Whites dug deep and finally got some reward for their efforts as Freddie Clarke went over from close range although celebrations were understandably muted.
There’s a couple of weeks now before the team get the opportunity to put the record straight, and there will be plenty of hard work and soul-searching going on before then to rediscover the collective mojo and get the Gallagher Premiership campaign back on track.