Lamb's misfiring Gloucester hit Italians for six

Gloucester 48 Calvisano 5
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The Independent Online

An immaculate kicking performance by the fly-half Ryan Lamb helped Gloucester keep in touch with the Pool Six leaders, the Cardiff Blues, despite an error-strewn performance.

Lamb kicked two early penalties and converted every try to finish with 18 points as Gloucester, for the second week running, ran in six tries against their hapless Italian opponents. Even so, this was a match in which Gloucester's fumbles and stumbles comfortably outnumbered their tries. They may have scored a hatful of points, but they could have had a trunkful. Still, the bonus point was welcome and the win stretched the unbeaten run by Dean Ryan's men to seven.

After last week's drubbing at home, Calvisano had reverted to their first-choice half-backs – a pair of New Zealanders, Gerard Fraser and Paul Griffen – and they looked altogether more cohesive as a result. They certainly managed to contain a lively Gloucester side for much of the opening half, even if they did look as if they had run out puff at one point, to judge by the pained expressions on Italian faces and the way they bent forward, hands gripping their legs above the knees.

But as things turned out there was plenty of steam left in their engine, as a sudden and sustained surge upfield showed. The Gloucester defence creaked and eventually cracked when Lamb had his kick charged down by Fraser, his opposite number, who ran on to touch the ball down for Calvisano's solitary score of the match.

Gloucester regrouped and adopted a more methodical and pragmatic approach as they worked their way to within striking distance. From a scrum 20 metres out their full-back, Olly Morgan, ran a great line off the scrum-half, Gareth Cooper, and the right wing Mark Foster finished the move with a flourish.

Very late in the half the powerful England No 8 Luke Narraway dived through a tangle of legs and bodies and bounced over the line for the try which really put Gloucester away.

After the interval and cock-ups by Apo Satala, Narraway and Lesley Vainikolo which saw clear chances go begging when each man was just a stride from the line, the home team at last pulled clear. Vainikolo latched on to a neat pop pass from Cooper to thunder over for his first try. More fumbles and knock-ons followed before the outside-centre, Matthew Watkins, scooped up a loose ball and scorched upfield for the fourth try.

The next score began with Gloucester on the back foot, deep in their own 22. It needed an interception 10 metres from the line by Vainikolo to set it up; he then had to sprint 90 metres for his second try. In the final minute of normal time Watkins matched Vainikolo with his second score.

Gloucester: O Morgan; M Foster (O Barkley, 57), M Tindall (capt; W Walker, 80), M Watkins, L Vainikolo; R Lamb, G Cooper (R Lawson, 64); A Dickinson (G Somerville, 55), A Titterrell (S Lawson, 66), C Nieto, A Eustace (W James, 58), M Bortolami, P Buxton, L Narraway, A Satala.

Calvisano: B Smith; D Forcucci, G Garcia (L McLean, 67), M Pratichetti, A Pratichetti; G Fraser (G Raineri, 71-80), P Griffen (P Patelli, 80); G Bocca (B Evans, 61), L Ghiraldini (capt; T D'Apice, 71), A Moreno (Evans, 46-61), J Purll (P Sidoli, 47-61; F Cristiano, 80), C Treloar, D Dal Maso, A Zanni, A Persico.

Referee: T Hayes (Wales).