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Gloucester stage stirring second-half fightback to beat Bordeaux-Begles

By PA
Press Association

Gloucester staged a stirring second-half fightback to begin their Heineken Champions Cup campaign by beating Bordeaux-Begles 22-17 at Kingsholm.

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Substitute Charlie Chapman’s try three minutes from time completed a powerful Gloucester recovery after they trailed 17-5 with just 16 minutes left.

They also finished with a bonus point following earlier touchdowns from Chapman’s fellow replacement Albert Tuisue, starting scrum-half Stephen Varney and hooker Santiago Socino.

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Fly-half Santiago Carreras added one conversion, but Bordeaux were left wondering how they let things slip after dominating the opening hour, yet they failed to score a second-half point.

Former Wasps number eight Tom Willis scored his team’s second try and was a dominant force throughout as Bordeaux looked capable of ensuring a miserable start to Gloucester’s European campaign in Pool A.

Prop Sipili Falatea also crossed for Bordeaux, while fly-half Zack Holmes added a penalty and two conversions.

And, while life is not about to get any easier for Gloucester, as they face a Dublin appointment with European heavyweights Leinster next Friday, George Skivington’s team can at least travel with five points in the bank.

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Gloucester Rugby v Union Bordeaux Begles - Heineken Champions Cup - Kingsholm Stadium

Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit was rested by Gloucester, with Alex Hearle replacing him, while Socino took over from an injured Jack Singleton and Cameron Jordan was handed a start alongside second-row partner Matias Alemanno.

Willis featured in the Bordeaux line-up for a full debut, with former Exeter wing Santiago Cordero also starting in a team captained by flanker Mahamadou Diaby.

Bordeaux, despite lying mid-table in the French Top 14 and making a number of changes for their trip to the west country, made a flying start.

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Gloucester won a defensive lineout in the third minute, but Bordeaux stole possession and Falatea capitalised on weak tackling to touch down, with Holmes converting.

Gloucester could not get going in the opening quarter, making errors and being unable to generate momentum, and Holmes increased Bordeaux’s lead through a short-range penalty following sustained pressure.

Gloucester Rugby v Union Bordeaux Begles - Heineken Champions Cup - Kingsholm Stadium

It was impressive work by the visitors, but they were undone in the 24th minute when Socino cut a straight line that took him clear of Bordeaux’s defence, and Varney finished impressively.

Bordeaux, despite Varney’s score, continued to dominate, purely through a greater mastery of the basics and control under pressure.

And it was no surprise when they claimed a second try just before half-time that Willis started and finished.

His driving run inside Gloucester’s 22 put the home defence in reverse gear, then he got himself in pole position to touch down after more close-range pressure.

Holmes’ successful conversion gave the visitors a 17-5 half-time lead, leaving Gloucester with a mountain to climb after an immensely disappointing opening 40 minutes.

Holmes drifted a penalty chance wide midway through the third quarter, yet, while Tuisue provided noticeable impetus off the bench, Gloucester remained their own worst enemies.

They suffered an injury blow 18 minutes from time when prop Fraser Balmain was carried off, but the home side responded immediately as Tuisue was driven over for a try.

And, when Socino crossed seven minutes later, it set up a gripping finale, although Carreras missed his third successive conversion after Bordeaux players attempted to charge it down.

But Chapman pinched the game from in front of Bordeaux’s noses when he gathered Alemanno’s pass for a 77th-minute try that Carreras converted, and the visitors could find no way back.

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