Bristol broken by Benton

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Gloucester 18

Bristol 12

To Gloucester the glory, but it just gets worse for Bristol. Seven league defeats on the trot and now an unhappy exit from the Pilkington Cup.

Ultimately, Gloucester had too much power up front and a deal more nous and competence behind the pack. Too often Bristol's backs spilled passes or lost the ball in the tackle and wasted opportunities, whereas when Gloucester's midfield made any errors (and they made their share) there was no one to take advantage of it.

Gloucester's three-quarters allowed the Bristol boys very little room or time in which to do something with their possession. The Cherry and Whites still did not have things all their own way. A comfortable cushion coming up to half-time was tossed away when captain Dave Sims threw a punch at David Corkery. The resultant penalty cut the Gloucester lead to a point. But this was a local derby as much as it was a cup tie and hits - legitimate and otherwise - were the general order of the day. Everyone was nervous, edgy; things were bound to go wrong in the raucous, fanatical atmosphere that is Kingsholm. There have been almost 200 encounters between these two great west country clubs and no one expected champagne rugby. The match still had its moments.

Bristol did not make it easy for Gloucester and they even had the cheek - much to the disgust of the Shed Heads - to take the lead, while Gloucester were still unpacking the baggage of excess adrenaline. They caught up and overtook their rivals in style though. A sustained spell of forward pressure finally saw prop Tony Windo ramming his muscular frame over the line for Mark Mapletoft to convert. The build-up to the try summed up much of the match; good old-ashioned attritional stuff, the way it used to be - forward-orientated, with flanker Nathan Carter, keeping out Scotland open-side Ian Smith, playing a blinder.

And all the while Bristol stayed in touch through fly-half Mark Tainton, a last-minute draftee into the position when the first choice, Paul Burke, pulled out after failing to recover from a knee injury. Tainton landed a total of four penalties and it needed a well-worked try from the England A scrum-half Scott Benton to put the issue out of Bristol's reach.

It came 10 minutes from the end after Gloucester had surged upfield having lifted a Bristol siege. Former England full-back Paul Hull was adjudged to have put a foot in touch when gathering a chip ahead. Sims gathered the ball and his pack drove to the line. The outstanding Phil Greening, understudy hooker in the England team to Bristol's Mark Regan, popped the ball up for Yorkshireman Benton to power over for the vital score.

But back came Bristol. If burly wing Dave Tiueti had backed himself with five minutes remaining and had gone for the line himself instead of flinging a less than accurate pass out to Irishman Corkery, who knocked on, it might have been a different tale. As it was Gloucester's great run continues - two Cup wins now, to go with their six league wins on the trot.

Gloucester: C Catling; M Peters, D Caskie, M Roberts, M Lloyd; M Mapletoft, S Benton; T Windo, P Greening, A Deacon, R Fidler, D Sims (capt), E Pearce, S Devereux, N Carter.

Bristol: P Hull; D Tiueti, S Martin, K Maggs, B Breeze; M Tainton, R Jones; A Sharp (B McConnell, 40), M Regan, D Hinkins, S Shaw (P Adams, 43-49), C Eagle, M Corry (capt), E Rollitt, D Corkery.

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand).

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