Gloucester gave their fans an early Christmas present at Kingsholm last Saturday afternoon. 69-12 was the final score in this European Rugby Challenge Cup fixture.
Ollie Thorley will capture the headlines for his four fabulous tries but, in truth, this was a simply dominant team performance which keeps Gloucester hot on the heels of Pau at the top of pool three.
The gap remains at three points, with Gloucester still to travel to Agen and then entertain Pau. It’s all still very much to play for and last Saturday’s result has done wonders for Gloucester’s tries and points scored totals. Equally as Importantly, with the next few weeks and the return to Aviva Premiership action in mind, the team also seemed to come through unscathed in terms of injuries.
Gloucester effectively had this in the bag after only 20 minutes. The try scoring bonus point was already secured by that point and it was obvious that Zebre were a far different animal from the one that Gloucester faced in Parma the previous weekend. Gloucester ran in 11 tries to thrash Zebre and make it three wins from four games in Pool 3 of the Challenge Cup. The hosts made nine changes but were 45-0 up at the break, with David Halaifonua crossing either side of Ciaran Gaffney’s yellow card. Ollie Thorley ran in four tries to add to scores from Freddie Clarke, Will Safe, Cameron Orr and Motu Matu’u. Matteo Pratichetti and Valerio Bernabo scored consolations for Zebre, who also had Tommaso D’Apice sin-binned.
Zebre had little answer to the hordes of green and grey shirts that constantly poured forward. But, they defended bravely, and got some reward for their efforts late on when they scored two late tries. Gloucester stay second, three points behind leaders Section Paloise, while defeat means bottom side Zebre have now lost all four of their group matches.
Gloucester: Sharples; Thorley, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Halaifonua; Burns, Vellacott; Orr, Matu’u, Hohneck; Slater (capt), Galarza; Polledri, Safe, Clarke.
Replacements: Hibbard, McAllister, Denman, Savage, Beckett, Heinz, Williams, Purdy.
Zebre: Gaffney; Pratichetti, Bisegni, Afamasaga, Venditti; Bordoli, Palazzani; Ah-Nau, Luus, Tenga, Krumov, Biagi (capt), Sarto, Minnie, Mbanda.
Replacements: D’Apice, De Marchi, Chistolini, Bernabo, Panico, Raffaele, Azzolini, Minozzi.