Gloucester 51 Bourgoin 27: Lamb fleeces Frenchmen

Fly-half leads Bourgoin a merry dance as Gloucester eye quarter-final berth
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The Independent Online

Ryan Lamb led Gloucester on a six-try rout which helped them open up a six-point lead in Pool Two of the Heineken Cup here yesterday. The victory leaves the unbeaten West Country club, who have missed out on just one bonus point in their opening four European matches, needing a bonus-point win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea next month in order to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

Their head coach, Dean Ryan, though, is taking nothing for granted. "This is Europe. The last game will decide things. We have to go to the Ospreys and then beat Ulster here. This is a top pool which will be played out to the final game."

Lamb did not just use his feet well, he used his head throughout and always seemed to find an opening for one of the hungrybacks or pop up an offload for a supporting forward.

It capped a good couple of days for the Gloucester outside- half, who learned late last week that he will not face a court appearance following an incident in the city centre a fortnight ago, although player and club are still anxiously awaiting to hear whether the case will be dropped altogether.

Apart from Lamb, Gareth Delve, the Wales international back-row forward, had a stormer at No 8. However, as clinical as Gloucester could be this haul brought their total to 17 tries in the competition they were at times overly casual and they were punished for it. But when Gloucester wanted to turn it on they did so with panache and power. Mike Tindall's strength on the hoof ensured he was able to place a grubber kick perfectly for the Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera to chase and gather for the opening try in the 14th minute.

Three minutes later Delve muscled his way through a mass of Bourgoin bodies for Gloucester's second try, after Lamb's superb kick ahead. When the Bourgoin lock Damien Fvre was shown a yellow card, the home fans anticipated more slaughter, since Lamb had already landed three penalties as well as adding the two conversions.

But oddly it was 14-man Bourgoin who then scored a try. Gloucester allowed their right- wing, Mathieu Nicolas, to snafflea loose pass from Qera intendedfor Iain Balshaw and the Frenchman had a simple run-in.

His captain, Benjamin Boyet, who like Lamb was having a fine day with the boot, kicking at goal or out of hand, landed the conversion to add to two earlierpenalties. The return of Fvre, though, signalled a sudden downturn in French fortunes. Gloucester regrouped, Lamb put Qera in the clear and he made 50 metres before being felled. Two recycles later Balshaw found himself free and dived over on the right.

When Gloucester scored their bonus try the third time they have achieved the feat in this season's competition theywere uncatchable.

Willie Walker, the replacement full-back, scored try No 4 after some good work by Luke Narraway. Lamb then cut through for an interception try, Bourgoin pulled one back from a catch and drive at a line-out but James Simpson-Daniel put Lesley Vainikolo over from close range and Bourgoin's effort in the last minute was in vain.

Gloucester: I Balshaw (W Walker, 40); J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall (L Lloyd, 76), A Allen,L Vainikolo; R Lamb, R Lawson (G Cooper, 53);N Wood, O Azam (A Titterrell, 53), C Nieto(C Califano, 53), P Buxton (capt; A Strokosch, 72), A Brown, L Narraway (M Bortolami, 55), A Qera, G Delve.

Bourgoin: F Denos; M Nicolas (A Forest, 67), R Coetzee, M Viazzo (N Carmona, 48), D Janin; B Boyet (capt), M Parra (R Mandon, 68); A Tchougong, J Genevois, O Sourgens, C Wyatt, D Fevre, B Monzeglio, M Rennie, W Jooste (A Petrilli, 51).

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).

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