Rugby Union: Fanolua fashions uprising

Gloucester 26 Richmond 20
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The Independent Online
Nothing gives the honourable citizens of Gloucester so much pleasure as hitting what they perceive to be the Premiership's landed gentry where it hurts, namely in the region of the heart. Gloucester overhauled the expensively assembled all stars from the well-heeled suburb of London with a typically passionate and full-blooded assault that put the gloss on the Christmas of the Kingsholm faithful.

Gloucester, who desperately needed to end a run of three league defeats, did so in style. They were 8-0 down after nine minutes. Simon Mason landed a penalty for a kicking offence - it is assumed it was a kicking offence from the signal given by the referee Tony Spreadbury, who communicated the action so enthusiastically he looked like one of the Tiller Girls.

Craig Quinnell, who is now so large he looks like a white George Foreman, added confirmation of his new appearance by throwing a heavyweight punch. It earned him a yellow card but Mark Mapletoft missed the penalty which resulted from Quinnell's misdemeanour.

Richmond then scored a cracker, Craig's brother, Scott, showing adept skills in midfield to release Jim Fallon on the left wing and, after excellent support play from the Hutton brothers, Robin and Mike, and Craig Quinnell, the British Lions hooker Barry Williams was able to breach an exhausted defence.

Thereafter, Richmond must have felt they were in a war zone. Glorious Gloucester relished the attrition and began the counter-attack when the Western Samoan Terry Fanolua rounded off a threequarter attack which included a pass that was not so much forward as precocious.

Soon after, during a move that contained a huge tackle by Craig Quinnell on Nathan Carter that had the fanatics in the Shed baying for the Welshman's blood, Robbie Hutton was left prostrate. The flanker was stretchered off with what appeared to be a worrying neck injury. However, he was suffering only from concussion and later made a full recovery.

Mapletoft kicked Gloucester into the lead with penalties in the 30th and 38th minutes and they turned around 16-8 ahead after the right wing Brian Johnson crossed for a try on his debut. It followed smart work by Chris Fortey, who had come on as a 20th-minute replacement for the injured Neil McCarthy, and Scott Benton.

There was no let-up in the second half from Gloucester, who cleverly varied their attacks, using the blunderbuss of the forward drive or unleashing their threequarters. From a concerted drive down the right, Mapletoft found himself in acres of space on the left and only desperate defence stopped him just feet from the line.

However, the same player was on target with another penalty to put Gloucester 19-8 in front and the icing on the cake was supplied in the 70th minute. Fanolua, captain of the Western Samoa sevens team, made a searing break and although he was caught, he slipped the ball to Audley Lumsden and the right wing sprinted 50 yards unopposed for a spectacular try. Mapletoft's conversion gave Gloucester an 18-point cushion, which, events were to prove, they needed.

A chorus from the crowd of "what a waste of money" finally seemed to stir Richmond into belated action and they scored two tries in the final six minutes. First, Allan Bateman intercepted a pass from Mapletoft to score under the posts when Gloucester were becoming over- confident and, in the final minute, Fallon rounded off a particularly incisive move, but it was all to no avail.

l Melrose, Scottish champions for the last two years, still head the Tennents Premiership by three points from West of Scotland despite suffering their first league defeat in more than two years, a 19-8 loss at home to Hawick. Ironically, the last time Melrose were beaten in a league game, in October 1995, was at Hawick.

Gloucester: C Catling; B Johnson (R Jewell, 55), T Fanolua, R Tombs, A Lumsden; M Mapletoft, S Benton; T Windo, N McCarthy (C Fortey, 20), P Vickery, M Cornwell, D Sims, P Glanville (capt), S Devereux, N Carter.

Richmond: S Mason; J Wright, A Bateman, M Hutton, J Fallon; M Pini, A Pichot; D Compton, B Williams, J Davies, C Quinnell, C Gillies, B Clarke (capt), S Quinnell, R Hutton (R Martin, 25).

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).