Thursday’s European Challenge Cup review: Gloucester overcome Worcester while Grenoble go top of Pool 5
Gloucester are now nine points clear at the top of Pool 4 in the Challenge Cup after they overcome Worcester Warriors 34-22 at Sixways
With Eddie Jones present, the Cherry and Whites continued their 100 percent record in the competition, winning three out of three so far
Grenoble moved top of Pool 5 after beating Agen 40-20 at Stade Armandie
Edinburgh or London Irish could potentially overtake the French side when they clash on Saturday
Gloucester made it three wins from three in the European Challenge Cup as they touched down five tries to claim maximum points with a 34-22 away victory against Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Thursday night.
Last night was the first match between the pair in the competition since Gloucester overcame their midland rivals 31-23 in the 2006 semi-finals.
New England head coach Eddie Jones looked on as Greig Laidlaw give Gloucester a narrow lead from the tee, opening the scoring after nine minutes, 0-3.
Dean Hammond’s try then gave the hosts an early lead three minutes later with Ryan Lamb knocking over the conversion to stretch the hosts advantage to four points.
Wing Henry Purdie then edged Gloucester in front just after the half-hour with Laidlaw converting before Lamb tied things up for the hosts with a drop-goal just before the break, 10-10.
The reigning Challenge Cup holders Gloucester though began to take control after the restart as Purdy touched down his brace after 51 minutes before Billy Burns’ great pass to veteran Rob Cook allowed the fullback to cross six minutes later for the visitors third score. Scrum-half Laidlaw converted the first but not the second as the visitors cemented a 12 point lead.
Gloucester’s Lewis Ludlow though was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul and it didn’t take long for Worcester to take advantage as Mike Daniels managed to close the gap with Lamb converting to further reduce the deficit on 63 minutes, 17-22.
Gloucester though recaptured their comfortable advantage three minutes later as Stephen McColl dived over to secure the bonus-point before soon after Billy Twelvetrees touched down try number five to secure the victory. Laidlaw again converted the first but not the second as the Cherry and Whites went 17 points clear.
Darren O’Shea then grabbed a late consolation for the Warriors two minutes from time, but it proved to matter little as Gloucester ended comfortable winner, travelling back to Kingsholm with maximum points, 22-34.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gloucester: Billy Burns
Burns creativity and handling skills tormented the Worcester defence throughout Thursday night as he released players into space continually throughout the evening. The 21-year-old’s skill level and composure for his age means he is one of the most exciting prospects in English rugby today.
Worcester: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Charlie Mulchrone (c), 8 Marco Mama, 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Darren O’Shea, 4 Dan Sanderson, 3 Gareth Milasinovich, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Ryan Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Max Stelling.
Gloucester: 15 Steve McColl, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt), 8 Lewis Ludlow, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Rob Cook.
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Salem Attalah (France), Mathieu Noirot (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
Agen 20-40 Grenoble
Tries: Baget, Barthomeuf, Deguilhem
Tries: Mignot (2), Taumalolo (3), Penalty
Conversions: Bosch (4), Loustalot
Sona Taumalolo touched down a hat-trick as Grenoble went top of Pool 5 above Edinburgh and London Irish by defeating Top 14 rivals Agen 40-20 at Stade Armandie.
The visitors headed into the clash looking to enhance their challenge in the group and they got off to the perfect start as it took less than a minute for Xavier Mignot to crash over and record the first score. Gilles Bosch knocked over the resulting conversion to give Grenoble a seven-point lead.
Taumalolo scored the first of his three tries on the night after 12 minutes to extend the early lead, and veteran Tongan added his second before the half hour. Bosch knocked over both conversions while Agen’s only response coming in the form of a Bautista Guemes penalty, 3-21.
The 34-year-old Grenoble prop completed a first-half hat-trick six minutes later to secure the bonus point and Bosch converted to give the visitors a 25-point lead at the break.
Agen fought back after the restart with First Marc Baget first going over to cut the deficit, before Marc Barthomeuf and Marius Deguilhem scored as the hosts threatened to complete the most unlikely of comebacks. Francois Bouvier converted one of the three tries, 20-28.
However, it was not to be as a penalty try, second score from Mignot and once conversion from Clement Gelin secured a 40-20 victory for Grenoble to ensure that they kept up the pressure on Edinburgh and London Irish, who face each other on Saturday in Pool 5.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Grenoble: Sona Taumalolo
Tonga Rugby World Cup star Taumalolo was the star of the show with a first-half hat-trick as the visitors claimed all five points on the night. The veteran loosehead prop was also a solid presence in the scrum, making him the undoubted man of the match.
Agen: 10 Bautista Guemes, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Marc Baget, 7 Antoine Miquel, 6 Nicolas Gal, 5 Léo Bastien, 4 Jean-Baptiste Roidot, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Jalil Narjissi, 1 Quentin Bethune.
Replacements: 16 Marc Barthomeuf, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Dave Ryan, 19 Denis Marchois, 20 Corentin Braendlin, 21 Baptiste Cadiou, 22 François Bouvier, 23 Julien Heriteau.
Grenoble: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Daniel Kilioni, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Xavier Mignot, 10 Gilles Bosch, 9 Christophe Loustalot, 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Henry Vanderglas, 5 Mathias Marie, 4 Jonathan Best, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Loick Jammes, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Walter Desmaison, 19 Ben Hand, 20 Mahamadou Diaby, 21 Lilian Saseras, 22 Clement Gelin, 23 Nigel Hunt.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Martyn Lewis (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)