Old masters on show

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The Independent Online
Nottingham 10 Gloucester 36

The Second Division strugglers Nottingham are in such a parlous financial state that they have advertised for a millionaire backer. They want to develop their ground in outlying Beeston, or even sell it off to developers and up goalposts to a new location, perhaps closer to the city centre.

It is a pity then that sport is not more like art. The appearance of Simon Hodgkinson, Chris Gray and Gary Rees in the cup tie against Gloucester was no rugby antiques roadshow - the trio still offer more than many younger players around the country - but what would their value be to the club were there a market for such old masters?

The flanker Rees still reigns offside, the former England fullback Hodgkinson still has an accurate right foot and Gray is as canny a competitor in the line-out as he ever was when playing in the second row for Scotland. Sadly, the experience and nous of these three musketeers was not enough to overcome Gloucester, who earned themselves a home tie in the quarter finals against Wasps.

"Everybody enjoyed it," Hodgkinson said afterwards. "But the overriding factor was their power in the scrum and their superiority in the line- out."

In fact it was Gloucester, themselves one from bottom in the First Division, who trailed at half-time after Nottingham's winger Steve Reed had weaved his way through a mesmerised defence from the half-way line for a try close to the posts.

It took Gloucester 13 minutes of the second half to get going, but once they did it was Nottingham who were stuck at the lights as it became one- way traffic. Two tries from Chris Raymond, one each from Lee Osborne and Mike Lloyd, and one penalty try courtesy of the referee, Doug Chapman, wrapped it up for Gloucester as Nottingham's forwards flagged.

Nottingham: Try Reed; Conversion Hodgkinson; Penalty Hodgkinson. Gloucester: Tries Raymond 2, Osborne, penalty try, Lloyd; Conversions Osborne 4; Penalty Kimber.

Nottingham: M Gallagher; S Reed, G Hartley, R Bygrave, A Smallwood; S Hodgkinson, A Royer; M Freer, M Ireland, A Jackson, C Gray (capt), L Jones, B Donald, G Rees, M Bradley.

Gloucester: T Beim (L Osborne, 40); P Holford, D Caskie, M Roberts, M Lloyd; M Kimber, S Benton; T Windo, P Greening, A Deacon, R Fidler, D Sims (capt), P Glanville, A Stanley, C Raymond.

Referee: D Chapman (Scunthorpe).

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