Heineken Cup, Pool 6
Gloucester power past Calvisano
December 13, 2008
Gloucester thumped Calvisano 48-5 in their Heineken Cup Pool 6 clash at Kingsholm.
The Premiership side outscored their Super 10 visitors six tries to one with winger Lesley Vainikolo and centre Matthew Watkins grabbing two apiece and winger Mark Foster and flanker Luke Narraway also touching down. Fly-half Ryan Lamb collected a personal tally of 18 points thanks to six conversions and two penalties.
The Italian side's only points came courtesy of a first-half try from fly-half Garard Fraser.
With Cardiff Blues winning in Biarritz, Gloucester knew anything less than a bonus-point win over the Italian strugglers would all but put an end to their chances of progressing to the knock-out stages. They took a third minute lead when Ryan Lamb marked a stray Calvisano kick in his own 22 and set off immediately.
The visitors were penalised but Gloucester elected to kick that goal via Lamb, who converted another two minutes later. After a line-out, Gloucester's Italian lock Marco Bortolami was warned by the referee for scuffling with his compatriots. And for the next 20 minutes, Gloucester struggled to get any continuity in their game.
Some stout Italian defence regularly thwarted the home side who were making careless unforced errors in their frustration at not being able to break the opposition line. It got worse for the home side when, in attempting to clear his lines, Lamb had his kick charged down by opposite number Gerard Fraser, who followed up for the shock score.
The outside-half failed with the difficult kick to give his side the lead. Gloucester finally constructed their opening try on the half-hour.
From a scrum 22 metres out from the Calvisano line, Lamb, Mike Tindall and Olly Morgan executed perfectly a pre-planned move which saw the full-back put Mark Foster over in the corner for a splendid score. Lamb converted from the touchline with an excellent kick.
Following that score, Gloucester began to play with far more purpose and continuity with the Italian defence now struggling to cope. And, in first-half overtime, Gloucester deservedly got their second try when a clever pass from Lamb sent Luke Narraway in under the posts. Lamb converted to give his side a 20-5 interval lead.
A 55-metre run from the impressive Olly Morgan immediately put Gloucester back on the attack in the second half and they should have quickly extended their lead. But Apo Satala, in the process of scoring, lost the ball over the visitors' line and, minutes later, they threw away another chance when, but for a poor pass from Morgan, Vainikolo would have scored.
However, the Tongan-born England wing soon made amends by breaking away from a ruck to score a solo try which Lamb converted. All Black prop Greg Somerville was introduced to make his Gloucester debut after 50 minutes, replacing the injured Alasdair Dickinson.
Olly Barkley was also introduced as Gloucester sought that vital fourth try - and it came after 63 minutes when Matthew Watkins raced in from half-way but that effort was bettered when Vainikolo intercepted and ran 80 metres for the try. Watkins then ran in another long range effort with Lamb converting all three late efforts to give him a 100% strike rate.
Gloucester director of rugby Dean Ryan was pleased with the way his side improved on their last outing against the Italians. "Our decision making was a step up from last week. We played significantly better and so did Calvisano," Ryan said. "I knew that they would come and make it hard for us. They wouldn't turn up and just lie down and that's how it proved. I knew that we were making them work hard in the first half so we would get the dividends late on.
"They kicked a lot of ball back at us so we had lots of possession but they just sat back and let us make the mistakes. With a lot of ball you tend to make more errors."
Olly Morgan was deservedly named man of the match and Ryan added: "He is playing very well, he is great under the high ball both in attack and defence. He needs a string of games but he ran a great line today for Foster's try."
As for Gloucester's chances of making further progress in the competition, Ryan said: "When we lost at Cardiff we had to make sure that we kept winning with bonus points. We've done that but Cardiff winning in Biarritz makes it harder for us.
"We wanted there to be something in the game when Cardiff come to us and that's what will happen but really we have to win both our two remaining games to stand a chance of qualifying."
Gloucester Rugby: O Morgan; M Foster, M Watkins, M Tindall [capt], L Vainikolo; R Lamb, G Cooper; A Dickinson, A Titterrell, C Nieto, A Eustace, M Bortolami, P Buxton, A Satala, L Narraway
Replacements: S Lawson, D Young, G Somerville, W James, R Lawson, W Walker, O Barkley
Rugby Calvisano: B Smith; D Forcucci, G Gonzalo, M Pratichetti, A Pratichetti; G Fraser, P Griffen; G Bocca, L Ghiraldini [capt], A Moreno, J Purll, C Treloar, D Dal Maso, A Persico, A Zanni
Replacements: B Evans, T D'Apice, P Sidoli, F Cristiano, P Patelli, N Raineri, L McLean
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
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