Gloucester gain Challenge Cup consolation

Newport-Gwent Dragons 23 Gloucester 32
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The Independent Online

Gloucester gained the consolation prize of a place in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals after ending their Heineken Cup campaign with an emphatic win at Rodney Parade.

Flanker Akapusi Qera scored three tries for the visitors, but the all-important bonus point arrived courtesy of a 74th-minute penalty try. It meant Gloucester finished as runners-up in Pool Two, progressing into the second-tier Challenge Cup, where they will be joined by five group winners of that competition and two other Heineken Cup clubs.

Nicky Robinson chipped in with three conversions and two penalties as Gloucester produced a powerful second-half performance. The Dragons, six points clear at the break, managed a Rhodri Gomer-Davies try and a late Ashley Smith touchdown, plus two penalties, a drop-goal and conversion from James Arlidge, and one Jason Tovey conversion.

"There was a quarter-final place at stake today, and it is a big thing," said the Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath. "It was a big match for us. A European quarter-final gives us something to look forward to. We haven't had a great record away from home, and we were aware of that. We got the four tries that we needed.

"Qera is a talent, a handful when he plays like that. It is great to see him back from injury. I was frustrated with our first-half performance – we did not look energised – but we were a lot stronger in the second period, particularly the forwards.

Gloucester were good value for the win, condemning the Dragons to a sixth-successive defeat in all competitions.

"All in all, we made too many errors," said Dragons head coach Paul Turner. "The error-count allowed Gloucester too much momentum, and we conceded points. We have got to show a bit more resolve when the going gets tough.

"If you make a couple of mistakes, then good sides tend to punish you. I was quite confident going into the game – Gloucester are not a great away team – but it is tough when you start the second half like we started it."

Newport-Gwent Dragons: Tries: Gomer-Davies, Smith; Conversions: Arlidge, Tovey; Penalties: Arlidge 2; Drop Goal: Arlidge. Gloucester: Tries: Qera 3, penalty; Conversions: Robinson 3; Penalties: Robinson 2.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; Brew, Gomer-Davies (Smith 45), Riley, Fussell; Arlidge (Tovey 66), W Evans (Leadbeater 55); Gustafson (McKenzie 21), Willis (S Jones 64), Robinson (Castle 49), MacDonald (A Jones 64), Sidoli, Lydiate, Harris, L Evans (G Thomas 41).

Gloucester: Morgan (Sharples 29); Simpson-Daniel, Molenaar, Fuimaono-Sapolu, Voyce; Robinson (Burns 78), R Lawson (Lewis 65); Dickinson (Wood 55), S Lawson (Azam 60), Somerville (Capdevielle 70), Attwood (Eustace 70), Brown, Narraway, Qera, Delve (Buxton 65).

Referee: C Berdos (France).

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