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#Thursday Tales: Challenge Cup 2015

#Thursday Tales: Challenge Cup 2015
European Challenge Cup


Gloucester Rugby coasted through the group stages of the European Challenge cup, with six straight wins over Brive, Oyonnax and Zebre.  The most notable features, were a hat trick scored by Charlie Sharples in his 150th appearance, in the game against Brive at Kingshom, and ex-Gloucester captain Marco Bortolami captaining the Zebre team.

Connacht were beaten in the quarter-final, but the best result was the 30-19 defeat of Exeter at Kingsholm in the semi-final, with tries from Billy Meakes, Tom Savage and Jonny May; whilst Greg Laidlaw kicked three conversions and two penalties, and James Hook a single penalty.

1 May 2015  Twickenham Stoop

Gloucester Rugby 19 Edinburgh 13

Team: Charlie Sharples; Jonny May, Billy Meakes, Billy Twelvetrees (captain), Henry Purdy; James Hook, Greg Laidlaw; Nick Wood, Richard Hibbard, John Afoa, Tom Savage, Tom Palmer, Ross Moriarty, Matt Kvesic, Gareth Evans.  Replacements: Darren Dawidiuk, Yann Thomas, Mario Galarza, Jacob Rowan.

Try: Twelvetrees.  Conversion: Laidlaw.  Penalties: Laidlaw (4)

Edinburgh were quickly off the mark and after three minutes took the lead through a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty.  Gloucester Rugby swiftly went on the attack, and dominated for much of the rest of the first half, throwing the ball about and making oceans of ground through May and Sharples.  For some time, all they had to show for the dominance was a Laidlaw penalty, but eventually May made a break to the Edinburgh 22, before offloading to Twelvetrees who scored the try.  Laidlaw added the two points.  May then made a 70 metre run which was only stopped by a desperate ankle-tap.  Soon after Anton Bresler was sin-binned for killing the ball, but Gloucester failed to capitalise on the man advantage, and it was Edinburgh who closed the gap with another penalty from Hidalgo-Clyne.  Laidlaw then kicked another penalty, and so, at half-time Gloucester led 13-6.

As the second half progressed the Cherry and Whites eased further ahead through two more Laidlaw penalties and at 19-6 seemed set for a comfortable victory. However, just before the hour mark Moriarty received a yellow card for kneeing an Edinburgh forward at a ruck, and worse was to follow when Billy Meakes received a full red for a late, high tackle on Sam Beard.  With Gloucester down to 13 men, it was inevitable that Edinburgh would set up a drive which resulted in a try for Ross Ford by the posts.  The conversion was a formality for Hidalgo-Clyne.  But Gloucester re-trenched, and with Laidlaw kicking intelligently, the clock was run down, and the end came with an award of a penalty to Gloucester, which Laidlaw missed, but it mattered little as the game ended immediately after.

Words provided by Gloucester Rugby Heritage