Sharples hat-trick as Brive nilled

Date published: October 17 2014

Gloucester began their Challenge Cup run with the perfect start at home to Brive, romping to a 55-0 win at Kingsholm.

Gloucester began their Challenge Cup run with the perfect start at home to Brive, romping to a 55-0 win at Kingsholm.

Charlie Sharples grabbed a hat-trick as Gloucester clicked into gear after half-time to open up a good gap at the top of Pool 5.

A rough start to the season has seen the Cherry and Whites develop under the new tutelage of David Humphreys and Laurie Fisher, but there was a sense of over eagerness throughout the opening 40 minutes.

An inconsistent first-half saw Gloucester rack up lineouts into double figures and enjoy the lion’s share of possession and territory, but the finishing touch wasn’t present.

Billy Twelvetrees summed that up with his dropped catch with the line ahead of him after sustained pressure on Brive, who to their credit initially showed more fight than expected given the wholesale changes to their starting XV.

Showing the right kind of fight was essential too, given that Brive’s accumulation of yellow cards in the Top 14 has become in its own right a bizarre attraction.

The period at the death though before half-time showed a total lack of composure from the visitors, playing the ball in their own try area and yielding an inevitable five-metre scrum.

Thankfully their set-piece work though had won the favour of referee Ian Davies, although Yann Thomas and Damien Jourdain were hauled over for a chat when his patience began to wear thin.

Gloucester were 10-0 to the good by the interval, Sharples capping a memorable night on his 150th competitive appearance for the club with a fine try.

Fellow England winger Jonny May helped make the space with an arcing run that lured the defence, before his step inside and pass put Sharples one-on-one with Elia Radikedike. Shrugging off the tackle he slid over in the corner.

Greig Laidlaw’s boot was sound as the Scotland scrum-half converted from the touchline and added another penalty later in the half.

A second penalty followed shortly after half-time and more points were to follow, as May again turned creator.

Using his pace to get behind the defensive line, Gloucester recycled and smart hands out wide and a well-worked offload inside form John Afoa sent another new signing, James Hook, over by the posts.

The speed of May and Sharples is easily Gloucester’s most effective weapon. Laidlaw fed Sharples perfectly for his second score, a well-weighted box kick bouncing up into the England international’s path for his pace to carry him past the last line of the defence.

A trip to the sin-bin for the two previously mentioned props was inevitable as the scrums continued to frustrate, but Gloucester’s mind was on a try bonus point.

The wait wasn’t a long one. Darren Dawidiuk sucked away any fight or resolve Brive had left when he slid over in the corner, ensuring Gloucester took away the maximum five points to get their Challenge Cup off to the perfect start.

There was still time for Sharples to complete his hat-trick, too quick again for the defence as he caught up with Dan Robson’s kick through.

The replacement number nine was duly rewarded when May took a tap penalty and scythed his way through a static defence for his third assist of the night to leave Gloucester just shy of the 50-point mark.

A penalty try ensured that landmark right on the final whistle, capping a destructive performance from Gloucester in the second half for them to feel confident about ahead of trips to Brive and Oyonnax later in the pool.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries: Sharples 3, Hook, Dawidiuk, Robson, Penalty Try
Cons: Laidlaw 3, Hook, Cook 3
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Yellow Card: Y.Thomas

For Brive:
Yellow Card: Jourdian

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson.

Brive: 15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Elia Radikedike, 13 Baptiste Delage, 12 Thomas Sanchou, 11 Guillaume Namy, 10 Riaan Swanepoel, 9 Nicolas Bezy, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Hugues Briatte, 5 Russlan Boukerou, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Damien Jourdain, 2 Louis Acosta, 1 Karlen Asieshvili.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Damien Lavergne, 18 Yusuf Tuncer, 19 Victor Lebas, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 Damien Neveu, 22 Anderson Neisen, 23 Hugo Veyssiere.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)