In the wake of Gloucester’s most recent reverse on the domestic front, their fifth in a row, Nigel Davies turned to the words of Winston Churchill for inspiration. “When you’re going through hell, keep going,” the Kingsholm commander urged his weary troops, as if all 15 of them were preparing to pad up and face the demonic Dick Dastardly of the Antipodes, Mitchell Johnson.
Happily for the Cherry and Whites and their director of rugby, there was nothing more hellish awaiting them in the Scottish capital on Sunday than an ultimately routine victory. It was not Gloucester’s finest hour and 20 minutes but, with Edinburgh offering little more than token resistance, the winning effort was enough to take them to second place in Pool Six of the Heineken Cup.
“For us to come here, when we’re not firing, and get a result like that, will certainly help things,” Davies said. “The confidence that will give the players will hopefully help us to start build some momentum.”
Time will tell. Behind the scenes, Davies is grafting hard to give the Gloucester pack the kind of momentum they have been lacking in the Aviva Premiership this season, having secured the signings of the props Sila Puafisi and John Afoa. Davies can also draw satisfaction from the manner in which his side overcome an unpromising start yesterday.
They were on the back foot from the off, Ben Morgan failing to gather Harry Leonard’s kick-off, and trailing by the sixth minute. Taking a feed from David Denton wide on the left, the Edinburgh full-back Greig Tonks brushed aside a trio of opposition players on his way to the try line.
It was powder-puff defending from Gloucester but with one flash of inspiration they were level five minutes later. The spark came from Henry Trinder, the would-be England centre, threading a grubber kick from halfway which shredded Edinburgh’s defensive line and allowed Rob Cook a comfortable score.
Gloucester’s next try was fashioned with a bit of back-line trickery from the centre Billy Twelvetrees and full-back Cook, the latter feeding an inside pass for Martyn Thomas to score.
If it was not effectively game over at 18-5 at the break, it ought to have been so six minutes into the second half. Gathering a loose kick in his own half, the left wing Jonny May embarked on a dazzling diagonal run in which he eluded a succession of Edinburgh hands before feeding Thomas for the right wing’s second try.
Instead of kicking on for a bonus point score, however, Gloucester had to do some defensive scrambling to make the game secure after Denton dived over from close range.
James Hudson departed to the sin bin for stalling a home ruck and Gloucester were under not a little pressure. They needed Twelvetrees to add what ballast he could to a defensive scrum close to their try line. A defiant drive shunted the Edinburgh pack in a backward direction. It drew the loudest cheer of the day from the travelling Shed-heads.
Edinburgh: Tries Tonks, Denton; Conversion Laidlaw. Gloucester: Tries Cook, Thomas 2; Con Burns; Penalties Burns 2
Edinburgh G Tonks; D Fife, N De Luca, B Atiga, J Cuthbert; H Leonard, G Laidlaw (capt); A Dickinson (W Blaauw, 59), A Lutui (J Hilterbrand, 59), W P Nel, G Gilchrist, I Van Der Westhuizen, C Du Preez, R Rennie (R Grant, 59), D Denton
Gloucester R Cook; M Thomas, H Trinder, B Twelvetrees (capt), J May; F Burns, J Cowan (D Robson, 61); Y Thomas (D Murphy, 72), D Dawiduik (H Edmonds, 51), S Knight (R Harden, 55), E Stooke (T Hicks, 3-13), J Hudson, S Kalafamoni (Cox, 61), M Kvesic, B Morgan
Referee: J Garces (France)