Jimmy Cowan claims second try in as many weeks to ease Gloucester Rugby to victory over Plymouth Albion
GLOUCESTER 22 PLYMOUTH ALBION 13
JIMMY Cowan ploughed through the whole of last season without a try.
But on his comeback from knee surgery, the 51-cap All Black has now pilfered two in successive weeks.
The 31-year-old scrum-half hopes his try-scoring luck can continue – but will happily settle for setting up the speed kings out wide.
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Former Otago Highlander Cowan claimed Gloucester’s second score against Championship men Plymouth, to add to his try in the Cherry and Whites’ 28-17 Munster defeat last weekend.
Prop Dan Murphy and full-back Martyn Thomas notched Gloucester’s other scores, in a performance that might have lacked continuity but never heart.
Second-half replacement Heath Stevens crossed for Plymouth, with Chris Elder converting, to add to Dan Mugford’s two penalty goals.
Pleased with the result and his personal progress, Cowan explained: “I didn’t score a single try last season, and now I’ve got two in two weeks, so that’s great – and hopefully that can be a sign of things to come.
“My main focus is to set the backline up for the tries though, I’ve got to feed the ball to these backs and get them into their natural running habitat.
“Nigel asked us for results tonight and we’ve delivered this which is great.
“Last week was about ticking a mental block for me personally.
“That’s 110 minutes of rugby now, so I’m feeling pretty confident going into the season.
“A dry ball made a big difference today from the horrid weather of last week.
“We ticked the box of victory, but we still need to sharpen up.
“At least a lot of guys got a run though, and that’s important.
“It was more about the mental side of things getting a result tonight, after two defeats at Toulon and Munster, so this can give us confidence moving into next week.”
Gloucester put four kickable penalties to touch in the first-half, keen for as much of an attacking workout as possible.
Loosehead Murphy crossed after Jonny Bentley hit the line well following the first of those penalty lineouts.
Bentley slotted a penalty after Gloucester were penalised for obstruction at their second penalty set-piece.
After Pale Nonu was sin-binned, the Cherry and Whites converted their fourth penalty lineout, with Cowan breaking off the back of a tightly-driven maul to scoot home.
Bentley then held Albion up over the line after his kick was charged down after the restart.
While Gloucester struggled to find their rhythm after the break, the home men did run in a good score through in-form Thomas.
Gareth Evans battered through Herbie Stupple, setting the Cherry and Whites away.
And Thomas was able to cut in of the left flank to go over the whitewash.
Thomas, Drew Cheshire, Elliott Stooke and Evans all impressed.
Cowan was increasingly solid, and will add extra intrigue to the scrum-half selection battle with Dan Robson and Tavis Knoyle.
Centre Ryan Mills pulled out at the last minute due to illness, and his playmaking abilities were missed.
Hardly a classic, but job done: with everyone through unscathed.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Murphy (6), Cowan (35), M Thomas (54). Cons: Bentley 2 (35, 54).
PLYMOUTH: Tries: Stevens (64). Cons: Elder (64). Pens: Mugford 2 (30, 51).
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (C Norman, 74), S Reynolds (J Robinson, 41), T Molenaar, M Tindall (S Rodwell, 41), D Cheshire, J Bentley (B Burns, 61), J Cowan (R Boughton, 68), D Murphy (J Gibbons, 41), D George (K Britton, 41), T Heard (Y Thomas, 58), E Stooke, W James (T Hicks, 52), M Cox, A Hazell (capt) (L Ludlow, 16-24 blood, 61), G Evans (J Hill, 74).
PLYMOUTH: C Elder, J Arnott, T Howley-Berridge, P Nonu, J Davies, D Mugford, R Cushion, D Morton, D McGregor, M Shields, I Ashcroft-Leigh, B Beukeboom, H Stupple, E Grace, R Oakley (capt). Replacements: G Evans, B Rogers, T Harrison, S Stephen, S Matavesi, P Rowley, H Stevens, L Warner, J Shanahan.