After a night of rain the sun accompanied the teams on to the ground of the Kinghsolm Stadium in the important challenge between the leaders of Pool 5 and Zebre, who have never been victorious in England in the previous two Champions Cup over last two seasons. The Black and Whites’ captain Bortolami and tighthead Chistolini – two former Gloucester players- made a good start by marking the first half with Daniller after a long multiphase putting pressure on a couple of occasions on the English in their own 22 but undergoing a couple of fouls at close quarters to give points and territory in Twelvetrees and companions.
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Gloucester moved a step closer to the knockout stages of Europe with a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Kingsholm
The Cherry and Whites continued to battle but they were far too lateral in attack, shuffling sideways and throwing long passes before making mistakes under pressure.
Glouceter were frustrated for large periods of the second-half as a lack of composure and an epidemic of errors took hold.
Errors and a lack of composure continued to litter Gloucester’s game as several opportunities went begging and Zebre desperately clung on.
It looked as though they would stutter to victory without the bonus-point but Matt Kvesic powered over to give his side a glimmer of hope with less than 10 minutes remaining.
And they competed the task at hand as Mark Atkinson scored in fortuitous fashion with just minutes to spare.
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Gloucester cruised to a 35-10 win against Zebre at Kingsholm. Early tries from Steve McColl and James Hook made it comfortable for the home side before Mark Atkinson completed the scoring minutes from time.
The win meant Gloucester maintain their 100 per cent winning streak against Italian opposition and they sit six points clear at the top of Pool Five.
If it weren’t for some sloppy errors in promising positions, the scoreline would have been more favourable for Gloucester, who were captained by the returning Billy Twelvetrees.
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Gloucester rugby director David Humphreys:
“We have done as much as we needed to do with three wins and two bonus points so far. Coming away with a result like that in Europe is just what you want”.
“We face a huge challenge going over there and trying to get another result next weekend. It was frustrating at times, but Zebre were very competitive all the way through.
“But while we might be a little bit disappointed with the performance, we’re happy with the result.”
Man of the Match Matt Kvesic:
“It’s always nice to score a try, but I’ll probably get some stick for not passing the ball. We let ourselves down with a few loose passes – it’s all about getting the detail right”.
“It was a difficult game and a bit disjointed for us. They played some good stuff and were strong in defence.
“It’s a good result for us, but it took until the 75th minute to break them down. Getting the bonus point was good for us because we have been slipping a little bit in the Premiership, so it was good to get some momentum.”
Zebre skipper Marco Bortolami:
It was very special coming back to Kingsholm, where I spent four wonderful years. We played pretty well until the middle of the second half,” said Bortolami.
“If we can fix the scrum and hold onto the ball, maybe we could have a better chance next weekend. We could have had another try in the second half and we now know that we must keep the ball against Gloucester.
“We might need a different game plan next week. They are very physical with their defence and we need to be more patient and play phase after phase.
“We have the ability and the skills, but we need to show a bit more composure and be more confident.”