Gloucester end poor run against Bristol with intense derby victory
Gloucester ended a run of five successive Gallagher Premiership defeats against Bristol as they won an intense west country derby 27-10 at Kingsholm.
Gloucester’s bonus-point victory took them into the Premiership play-off zone, moving three points above Northampton in fourth place, but Bristol remain in the bottom three.
And it was another performance that underlined the strides Gloucester are making under head coach George Skivington.
Gloucester’s first Premiership success against Bristol since 2018 was secured by tries from hooker Jack Singleton and centre Chris Harris, before a second-half penalty try sealed the deal and substitute scrum-half Charlie Chapman claimed a fine solo score in the final minute.
Wing Louis Rees-Zammit returned for Gloucester following Wales’ Autumn Nations Series campaign, and he was among seven changes following victory over Wasps last time out as the likes of Harris, number eight Ben Morgan and flanker Ruan Ackermann also featured.
Fiji star Semi Radradra was named on Bristol’s bench after recovering from a knee injury that had sidelined him since the Olympic sevens tournament in Tokyo this summer, while fit-again England international scrum-half Harry Randall and skipper Steven Luatua also returned.
Gloucester made a bright start, piling pressure on Bristol following scrum-half Ben Meehan’s clever chip and chase, before the visitors infringed and Hastings kicked a sixth-minute penalty.
The home side exuded confidence, yet Bristol managed to secure a degree of territorial dominance that ended with Sheedy slotting an equalising penalty.
The game went through a scrappy, scruffy period as both sides displayed plenty of intent, but their endeavours were undone by poor handling or wrong decisions.
Ultimately, though, Gloucester’s close-range driving lineout play served them well again as they went back in front just before half-time.
Their first attempt to shunt Bristol backwards ended with another penalty and a team warning to captain Luatua.
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But Gloucester took maximum advantage from an identical platform as Bristol went into reverse gear and Singleton touched down in the corner.
Hastings could not convert, and although Bristol ended the opening 40 minutes by launching a sweeping attack that saw them go close to a try, Gloucester secured an 8-3 interval advantage.
Radradra appeared for the second period, replacing Alapati Leiua, who took a knock, and he was soon heavily involved in the action.
Bristol attacked virtually from the restart, and after Radradra and Randall both made inroads, Sheedy’s well-placed kick saw Purdy gather a kind bounce and claim a try that Sheedy converted.
It was a setback for Gloucester, who then saw Morgan limp out of the action, with Jordy Reid replacing him as Bristol continued to exert pressure.
But Bristol were then undone by a sublime piece of midfield work by Mark Atkinson, whose exquisite rolling kick the visiting defence allowed his centre partner Harris a clear path to collect the ball and score.
Hastings’ conversion opened up a five-point gap approaching the final quarter, and it got even better for Gloucester with 14 minutes left as referee Christophe Ridley awarded them a penalty try.
Bristol were punished for pulling down a maul close to their line, and it also cost them a player for 10 minutes when Ridley sin-binned flanker Dan Thomas.
And there was no way back into the contest for Bristol after that as Gloucester finished strongly through Chapman’s try to claim a notable scalp during a season that continues to show considerable promise.
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