Planet Rugby

Gloucester book a date at home

20th January 2008 14:50

Share:

Lesley Vainikolo Gloucester Ulster

Road Kill: Lesley Vainikolo lines up Rory Best

Gloucester secured their berth in the Heineken Cup play-offs courtesy of a tense 29-21 victory over a proud Ulster side at Kingsholm, thereby finishing top of Pool Two and booking a home quarter-final.

The Irish visitors, looking to impress new coach Matt Williams, put in a spirited performance to take the Pool Two game to the wire.

But the Guinness Premiership leaders proved too powerful at Kingsholm, where they will play their knock-out tie in April.

They made their intentions patently clear from the outset with a barrage of searing breaks, initiated by Lesley Vainikolo.

The giant Tongan-born winger had only been back at the club for two days, having flown back from New Zealand following the death of his father.

Vainikolo received a hero's welcome from the Kingsholm faithful who have taken him to their hearts in the six months since he switched codes from Bradford Bulls.

Vainikolo may not have got onto the scoresheet, but his contribution and that of England centre Mike Tindall proved too much power for Ulster.

James Simpson-Daniel also displayed the footwork to cause problems on the other wing.

Yet mistakes at the breakdown and more damagingly at the line-out denied Gloucester from establishing the dominance they wanted on home soil.

Their first try, scored by Fiji flank Akapusi Qera following a swivelling break by Tindall in the 18th minute was soon cancelled out by Tommy Bowe, who put the finishing touch to a cross-field break by scrum-half Isaac Boss.

Alasdair Strokosch was next over the whitewash for Gloucester, stretching under the posts to cap a solid period of pressure, and Chris Paterson converted both.

Although they lost winger Mark McCrea to the sin-bin, Ulster did not let up but were unable to add to their tally with Paddy Wallace suffering an off day and missing three penalties.

But they managed to find space for Andrew Trimble to go over four minutes into the second half, with Wallace's second conversion bringing Ulster level at 14-14.

Gloucester responded with two well crafted tries, both involving Simpson-Daniel.

Qera crossed for his second and Iain Balshaw, who had missed out twice earlier in the game due to poor passes, wrapped up the bonus point with nine minutes remaining.

Bowe's second try, converted by Niall O'Connor, a rallying finish from the visitors and Qera's yellow card set up a rousing finale.

But replacement back row Luke Narraway made the game safe with a well-worked try that used the width of the pitch and denied Ulster even a consolation point.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:

Tries: Qera 2, Strokosch, Balshaw, Narraway

Cons: Paterson 2

For Ulster:

Tries: Bowe 2, Trimble

Cons: Wallace 3

Yellow card(s): McCrea (Ulster) - tackling the man in the air, 35; Quera (Gloucester) - dangerous tackle, 79

Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Chris Paterson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Peter Buxton, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.

Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Christian Califano, 18 Will James, 19 Luke Narraway, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Ryan Lamb, 22 Willie Walker.

Ulster: 15 Mark Bartholomeusz, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Trimble, 12 Paul Steinmetz, 11 Mark McCrae, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Grant Webb, 7 Neil Best, 6 Matt McCullough, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Bryan Young.

Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Carlo Del Fava, 19 Neil McMillan, 20 Kieran Campbell, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Seamus Mallon.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Touch judges: Eric Soulan (France), Jean-Pierre Vermande (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
England 28 - 9 Samoa
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter828
2Bath828
3Northampton726
4Saracens724
5Wasps820