Gloucester Rugby v Bordeaux Begles match analysis and pictures
Gloucester Rugby 25 Bordeaux-Begles 13
SWASHBUCKLING over Kingsholm's expanses, Gloucester swept to half-time control against embattled Bordeaux.
But it was not with style and panache that the Cherry and Whites won this Amlin Cup clash – it was through grit and no small coaching nous.
Will James, Billy Twelvetrees and a smart brace from Charlie Sharples ensured Gloucester plundered the four-try bonus point in just 37 minutes.
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Magisterial James Simpson-Daniel was once again the catalyst for class.
After the turnaround the Kingsholm men lost their edge – but were at least able to fend off their resurgent opponents.
The game's pivotal moment came when James lost his cool and threw a needless punch as Gloucester defended their line.
The rightful yellow card left the home side a lock light and defending a five-metre scrum.
Ben Morgan stepped into the engine room breach – and Nigel Davies sent on an all-new front-row from the bench.
It proved a smart decision: the fresh trio blasted Bordeaux off the ball and won a crucial penalty.
After the brainless punch, the cerebral coach came to the rescue.
Gloucester are now unbeaten in seven: hats off to Mr Davies.
Free-running Aussie hooker Huia Edmonds was just a pass away from helping Gloucester to the lead from the off.
Twelvetrees struck a post with a penalty attempt, but then the home side struck.
Simpson-Daniel drifted left to right through the porous defensive line after a driving maul.
And when the ball was fired back the other way, lock James powered home.
All Black Cowan's World Cup-winning pedigree came to the fore from a clever kick in behind.
The 30-year-old half-back accepted a tackle – but not before blasting deep – allowing Twelvetrees to race clear, scoop up and slide home.
Cowan was lucky to escape censure for tackling a Bordeaux man chasing a threatening grubber.
Bordeaux shortly punished Gloucester with a penalty from Sanchez though, to claw a foothold on the scoreboard at the first quarter's close.
And Sanchez doubled both his personal and team tally to set the second quarter in motion.
Not to be subdued though, Gloucester hit back with fluency and poise.
Tindall drove through the middle, Hamilton created an overlap – and Simpson-Daniel lifted his defence-drawing pass straight out of the textbook, setting onrushing Sharples home for try number three.
Sanchez's clean line break scared the Cherry and Whites, but Gloucester rallied by stealing a scrum against the head.
Twelvetrees found his kicking range with a penalty, after missing three conversions and a goal shot.
And from the restart the Kingsholm men plundered their bonus-point try.
Morgan's barnstorming bisection set Gloucester clear, Twelvetrees fed Edmonds, and he quickly shipped on to Sharples, who bundled home for his second of the night.
Injury ended Tongan brute Kalamafoni's night at the start of the second half, but Sanchez missed the resulting penalty.
Simpson-Daniel's switch with Martyn Thomas almost had Gloucester away again, but a stray pass let Bordeaux off the hook.
Bordeaux shocked sluggish Gloucester with a penalty lineout drive, crossing the whitewash.
But the Cherry and Whites defence held the French raiders off the ground, denying Bordeaux the try.
A thunderous Qera tackle kept Bordeaux at bay from the scrum.
Mindless lock James then threw a needless punch, and duly walked to the sin-bin.
His absence caused Gloucester untold problems in two scrums.
But the fresh legs of Nick Wood, Koree Britton and Rupert Harden offset having Ben Morgan as a makeshift lock, and Gloucester won a priceless penalty to clear their lines.
The move was no less than a Nigel Davies masterstroke.
Twelvetrees then struck a post with his second penalty miss of the night, and Bordeaux rallied once more.
Sanchez tried a sneaky cross-field kick – but though Avesini Vasuinubu collected he strayed into touch before dotting down.
Gloucester finally wrestled some kind of authority thanks to an all-powerful scrum that elicited audible screams of pain from the French.
But still the home side lacked incision.
Skipper Hamilton trudged off injured with four minutes on the clock, leaving Gloucester a man light with no replacements left on the bench.
Flanker Gibouin strolled home for a consolation score at the death – the only of the half in fact – but Gloucester still claimed the win.
No doubt Gloucester slipped from their first-half pace – but a crucial five-point victory nonetheless.
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (R Cook, 63), C Sharples, T Molenaar, M Tindall (T Taylor, 53 [D Robson, 76]), J Simpson-Daniel, B Twelvetrees, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Murphy (N Wood, 53), H Edmonds (K Britton, 53), S Knight (R Harden, 53), W James (T Savage, 66), J Hamilton (capt), S Kalamafoni (M Cox, 43), A Qera, B Morgan.
BORDEAUX: D Domvo, A Vasiunubu, C Brousse, M Denetre (F Le Bourhis, 73), T Brana, N Sanchez (C Lopez, 68), J Seron (B Serin, 64), F Labbe, F Rofes (capt) (S Fort, 68), Y Boutemane (J Poirot, 46), K Navickas (A Chaveau, 59, F Tisseau, G Gibouin, R Kitshoff, D Larrieu. Unused: L Delboulbes, H Chalmers.
REFEREE: M Mitrea (ITA)