Gloucester 46 Brive 13: Brive encounter suits sharp Simpson-Daniel

Feeble French effort lets the darling of Kingsholm show full range of skills in seven-try romp
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The Independent Online

English clubs have won Europe's second-tier tournament in each of the last five seasons, and seven tries in a one-sided quarter-final preserved Gloucester's chances of continuing the run. Sadly Brive were unprepared to risk anything like life and limb to have it any other way, and while French clubs continue this laissez-faire attitude it will be difficult to market this equivalent of football's Uefa Cup.

Everyone knows that Heineken Cup qualification is the ultimate prize to the tournament winners, but the French prefer to save themselves for domestic competition. Though Brive are safe from relegation in the French Championship, they fielded only five first-team regulars. On almost every occasion Gloucester had a set-piece in or near the visitors' 22 it was the cue for the scoreboard operator to flex his fingers.

Doubtless still hurting from the defeat here by Bristol in the Premiership a week previously, Gloucester salved their wounds with tries from all angles, and all finished by English hands. The most supple and subtle of these, unsurprisingly, belonged to James Simpson-Daniel. Described by Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan as a "world class wing now, and possibly a world class centre in the future", Simpson-Daniel filled both positions yesterday, moving into midfield during the second half when he jinked over for the final try after 65 minutes. Still stationed out wide in added time at the end of the first half, he called for a cut-out ball from Ryan Lamb and in one movement snapped a scoring pass back inside to Mike Tindall. Sheer quality.

It was a forgiving stage for James Forrester to parade his handling and running talents at No 8, and Lamb, the 19-year-old who was fly-half throughout the England Under-21s' recent Grand Slam campaign, to make his first senior start for the club.

Forrester scored tries in the 10th and 21st minutes, one direct from a scrum pick-up, the other in support of Alex Brown, who nicked a loose tap-down by Brive at a line-out. Peter Richards matched Forrester's feat with a try either side of the interval.

A cautionary note, though, for those with England selection in mind for Richards and Forrester: they each missed a head-on tackle on one of the few Brive players who looked consistently interested, the flanker Damien Chouly.

Andy Hazell rumbled over to the right of a scrum in the 60th minute for the sixth try and, after Simpson-Daniel's score, the man on the public address started flogging tickets for the semi-final against Worcester in three weeks' time. There will be a Premiership rehearsal a week earlier.

Brive, fondly remembered for their stylish capture of the Heineken Cup in 1997, got a try for old time's sake when the replacement wing Yves Donguy ran in from 60 metres. They did not look too bothered, even then.

Gloucester: O Morgan (L Mercier, 66); J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall, A Allen (J Bailey, 49), M Foster; R Lamb, P Richards (H Thomas, 57); P Collazo (J Forster, 63), M Davies, G Powell, J Pendlebury, A Brown, P Buxton (capt; L Narraway, 57), J Forrester, A Hazell.

Brive: J Dalla Riva; C Platek, C Marienval (S Bonetti, 40), N Couttet, M Bottini (Y Donguy, 51); M Petitjean, D Neveu; D Rodriguez (P Toderasc, 40), J Djoudi, R Cheron, D Drozdz, S Chinarro (capt), T Tavalea (S Azoulai, 40), F Laurent, D Chouly (J Campo, 55-58)

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).

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