Gloucester halt Quins' unbeaten run
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: A near-flawless display from Gloucester Rugby brought Harlequins’ unbeaten run to a shuddering halt with a dominant 29-7 bonus-point victory.
The hosts had won their last five Premiership Rugby games on the bounce, but Paul Gustard’s side were blown away by their top four rivals at The Stoop.
Tries from Jason Woodward, Ruan Ackermann, Tom Marshall and Danny Cipriani saw fourth-placed Gloucester close the gap to Quins in the third to just two points.
Billy Twelvetrees also added three conversions and a penalty to hammer home the visitors’ advantage, while Harlequins grabbed a late consolation through Nathan Earle.
The victory was the Cherry and Whites’ first over the hosts at The Stoop for 13 years and extended their advantage over Sale Sharks in fifth to seven points.
It was the perfect response from Johan Ackermann’s men following their disappointing West Country derby defeat to Bristol Bears last weekend.
After soaking up early pressure, Gloucester took the lead with their first substantial attack after eight minutes when fullback Woodward fended off Mike Brown and crossed the whitewash.
Ollie Thorley’s blockbuster break from his own half set up the second, with Cipriani taking over and throwing one of his signature long-passes to put Ackermann over the line.
Twelvetrees converted both scores to give Gloucester a 14-0 lead inside 15 minutes before Tom Marshall was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.
Gloucester managed the game well despite being down to 14 men and increased their advantage going into half-time with a further Twelvetrees penalty.
It was then Harlequins’ turn to lose a man to the sin bin after the restart when Joe Marchant saw yellow for a high tackle on Thorley – and Gloucester capitalised immediately.
The visitors kicked to the corner and from the lineout they worked the ball out wide through Woodward to Marshall, who dotted down for his side’s third try.
Gloucester were not done yet, though, and they bagged the all-important bonus point with 15 minutes left on the clock.
It came from a five-metre scrum as star man Willi Heinz took the ball on the blindside and fed Cipriani, who dived over the whitewash under pressure to finish.
Harlequins were able to deny Gloucester a shutout, however, with Earle continuing his try-scoring form to kick ahead and touch down with five minutes left.
Tries: Woodward, Ackermann, Marshall, Ciprini
Cons: Twelvetrees 3
Yellow cards: Tom Marshall (Gloucester, 14), Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 50)
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 James Lang, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (co-captain), 6 Jack Clifford, 5 James Horwill (cc), 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Lewis Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 George Merrick, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Banahan.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Paul Dix
TMO: David Rose