Moore's fine exit

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The Independent Online
Gloucester 17

Harlequins 28

AT ONE stage here at Kingsholm yesterday, Gloucester glee knew no bounds as Harlequins trailed in the early stages. Thoughts of an upset, though, were soon dispelled, which means Brian Moore can retire in the knowledge that Quins are good for another season of First Division rugby.

Lest we forget, Mike Teague was also departing the scene, though, as someone remarked: "He's had more farewells than Status Quo." Not that this stopped the Gloucester team lining up to applaud the English Lion on to the pitch. Moore, on the other hand, sprinted out at the head of his side, a terrier to the end.

"I am honoured to be going out at Gloucester," Moore said, "which for me, unlike most players, has always been a favourite ground." The timing of his announcement was because "if we lost and Northampton won Quins would go down, and if I made my decision in those circumstances, I might be accused of deserting a sinking ship".

Heaven forbid. Just about the last thing one would expect of Moore would be for him to do that. Like a traditional captain, he would be up there on the bridge as the water closed over him. Not that there was much danger of any such event here, with Quins making headway from the very kick-off, taken by Gloucester, with the ball disappearing straight into touch for the visitors to win the ensuing scrum and keep Gloucester bottled up in their own half.

Which was not too surprising; Gloucester looked lightweight in the absence of Richard West and Dave Sims at lock and missing the Scot Ian Smith at flanker.

Still, much to the pleasure of Gloucester supporters, Paul Challinor made a complete hash of two penalty attempts for Quins, while Lee Osborne immediately found the target down at the other end shortly after dear old Teague was involved in a punch-up with Mick Watson.

The Quin's kickers have been having coaching from Jon Webb, the former England full back, in an effort to improve their strike rate. In Challinor's case it appears to have made precious little difference. Jim Staples was called up and proved more reliable.

First, though, a Peter Thresher line out take and a Challinor up and under saw Will Carling collect the ball to send Crawford Henderson over. And Quins were well in the driving seat after Staples had bisected the posts. This was thanks to a ridiculous display by Andy Deacon. Carling had kicked ahead and was about to score when he was tackled from behind by the Gloucester captain.

The penalty try and Staples's conversion made it 15-3 to Quins at the break and although Gloucester had two tries to celebrate from Mark Cornwell, a penalty and a drop from Staples preceded Peter Mensah's try as Quins strolled safely home.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Caskie, M Roberts, L Osborne; M Kimber, M Hannaford; T. Windo, P Greening, A Deacon (capt), M Cornwell, S Devereux, P Glanville, M Teague, P Ashmead.

Harlequins: J Staples; C Henderson, W. Carling, P Mensah, S Bromley; P Challinor, R Kitchin; J Leonard, B Moore (capt), A Mullins, A Snow, P Thresher, M Watson, C Sheasby, R Jenkins.

Referee: S. Piercy (Goole).