Broken arm puts Vickery out of Six Nations

Gloucester 17 Bath 16
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The Independent Online

Over the years this local derby has been renowned for shedding blood, but on this occasion it is far more likely that tears were produced, most probably by the England coach, Andy Robinson.

Over the years this local derby has been renowned for shedding blood, but on this occasion it is far more likely that tears were produced, most probably by the England coach, Andy Robinson.

Among the casualties after a rugged and tense contest, settled by a last-minute drop-goal by the Gloucester replacement Brad Davies from way out on the left, was a key component of the red rose front row - Phil Vickery.

The tight-head prop suffered a fractured right forearm and having spent the weekend in a temporary plaster goes under the surgeon's knife today to have a plate inserted. That rules him out of the rest of the Six Nations and probably for as long as eight weeks in all.

"It doesn't get any better," said a stoical Vickery, who fractured an eye socket in November and before that had spent five months recovering from the second operation on his back in two years.

"I don't know how long I am going to be out; we will have to wait and see what they say on Monday. The good thing is I will be able to stay active and stay around the club, so I will be able to get involved and be around the boys. I've done exactly the same thing as Dave Barnes [of Bath] and he just came over to me and said once the operation was done it was literally a week and he was back doing running."

Dean Ryan, Gloucester's coach, said: "Every time Vicks comes back he gets somewhere near playing at his best then something breaks, his back or his arm, whatever. I doubt he has strung together more than four or five games in the last three years."

The news did not get much better for Robinson, because Olly Barkley had to pull out before the start with a calf strain and Henry Paul limped off towards the end after twisting an ankle. Both players are expected to recover for the match in Dublin on Sunday.

At least Bath's loose-head Matt Stevens, who is already in the squad, came through unscathed, as did the tight-head Duncan Bell, who received his call-up yesterday.

"He will handle international rugby, no doubt about that," said Bell's coach, John Connolly. "He will also handle Ireland's Reggie Corrigan, as he did in the Heineken Cup. But he is still getting carried away with his performance for the As, and whoever made him man of the match in that game has created a monster."

With both his fit props in the England squad, Connolly will ask for next Saturday's Premiership match against Harlequins to be put back. "We have a major safety issue," he said. Gloucester at least have Gary Powell fit enough to come in for Vickery.

As for the derby itself, Gloucester scored the try of the game when Paul linked with James Simpson-Daniel, who was playing in the centres, and the wing Seti Kiole in the 14th minute to send Terry Fanolua over the line.

The lead changed hands four times as the teams hammered away at each other in the biting cold, before Davies' dramatic late intervention. For injury-ravaged Bath there was at least a bonus point for coming a close second after their five-match winning run against their near neighbours was finally brought to an end.

Gloucester: Try Fanolua; Penalties Paul 3; Drop goal Davies. Bath: Try Scaysbrook; Conversion Malone; Penalties Malone 3.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, J Simpson-Daniel, T Fanolua, S Kiole; H Paul (B Davies, 80), A Gomarsall; N Wood, M Davies, P Vickery (capt; T Sigley, 29), A Eustace, A Brown, J Forrester, A Balding, A Hazell (N Curnier, 70-76).

Bath: M Perry; A Williams, T Cheeseman, R Davis, J Maddock; C Malone, N Walshe; M Stevens, L Mears, D Bell, S Borthwick (capt), D Grewcock (R Fidler, 76), G Lewis, I Fea'unati (G Delve, 76), J Scaysbrook.

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

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