Gloucester fear the price of victory

Gloucester 42 Treviso 11
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The good news for Gloucester is that they are safely through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. The not so good is that they were pipped to the top spot in Pool Five by Munster. It means the Irish province will be drawn at home, earning another tie at Thomond Park in Limerick where they have never been beaten in Europe's premier club competition.

Although both Gloucester and Munster gained maximum points yesterday and finished level with 24, Munster gained the better seeding by virtue of their superiority in the two games played between them. Thus Gloucester, along with Edinburgh, join the six group winners as a best qualifier and will be seeded seventh.

Unless Wasps run riot in Perpignan today, Gloucester's fate is that they will play the side seeded two. As the eighth seeds, Edinburgh play the number one seeds, pitching them into a rematch at Toulouse, and that will almost certainly condemn Gloucester to another journey to Thomond Park. On their last two visits there, the West Country club have conceded eight tries and scored one.

A crowd of more than 10,000 were enjoying themselves here - until it was announced that in Limerick the referee, Tony Spreadbury, a West Country man, had awarded Munster a late penalty try against Bourgoin, the crucial fourth touchdown which brought them a bonus point. A huge groan filled the night air.

The Heineken Cup, at the completion of the pool stages, is now put on ice until April, when the quarter-finals are played. Nevertheless, for logistical purposes, the draw for the semi-finals will be held not in three months time, but on Tuesday. In Dublin, the headquarters of European Rugby Cup Limited, they will announce that either/or will play either/or and the winners of such and such will meet the winners of so and so. It should be enthralling.

The pitch at Kingsholm has never been renowned for resembling a bowling green and yesterday it was made even heavier than normal by persistent rain. Despite the conditions, which made passing and handling, not to mention kicking, a hazardous business, Gloucester scored six tries. They made plenty of mistakes but they could afford to do so against a side that finished bottom of the pool.

All Gloucester's tries were close to the posts, making Henry Paul's conversions a formality and once again, they showed just how dangerous their back three can be. Jon Goodridge, James Simpson-Daniel, who last week was included in England's squad for the RBS Six Nations' Championship, and Marcel Garvey are all possessed with great pace and the trio's tries provided the highlights on a foul day. Gloucester had secured their precious bonus point by the 38th minute, by when they led 28-6 and the game was up.

Gloucester's task was fairly simple, made simpler by the referee, who was almost Huttonesque in his one-sidedness. Eric Darriere began by awarding the Cherry and Whites half a dozen penalties in the first 10 minutes.

Treviso, one of the better clubs in Italy, made a decent fist of it in the early stages. Simon Mason, once with Richmond and Ulster, kicked them ahead with a penalty before, in the 10th minute, Simpson-Daniel set the tone. The left wing, taking a clever, short pass from Duncan McRae at pace in midfield, sprinted over from 40 yards. In such conditions, a short pass was by far the better option.

Goodridge, a young full-back who has been given an extended run because of an injury to Thinus Delport, has made the most of his promotion and again he emphasised that he is a player to watch when he took an inside pass from James Forrester for touchdown number two.

After Robert Todd had scored the third with a searing break in midfield, Monsieur Darriere effectively kicked the Italians up the derriere. First he despatched Salvatore Garozzo to the sin-bin for coming into the wrong side of a maul, and then he awarded Gloucester a penalty try as they were about to trundle over from another unstoppable rolling maul. Coincidentally, both Gloucester and Munster's fourth try, which earned them a point on top of the four for a victory, came from penalty tries.

Treviso found themselves 28-6 down at half time and that was after playing with the advantage of a gale force wind.

The flanker Peter Buxton, who was named man of the match, scored Gloucester's fifth try while the prop Rodrigo Roncero was sitting in the sin-bin, being shown the yellow card a few minutes after coming on as a replacement. To Treviso's credit, they never stopped battling and were rewarded when Darrel Eigner breached Gloucester's defence.

But Gloucester had the last word as Garvey, on the right wing, scorched outside his markers before cutting inside for a brilliant score. Gloucester have the wings to take off but if they have to fly to Southern Ireland, they will also need a prayer.

Gloucester 42
Tries: Simpson-Daniel, Goodridge, Todd, Penalty try, Buxton, Garvey
Cons: Paul 6

Treviso 11
Try: Eigner
Pens: Mason 2

Half-time: 28-11 Attendance: 10,176

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, R Todd (T Fanolua, 62), H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; T Woodman (R Roncero, 40), C Fortey (C Collins, 76), P Vickery, A Eustace, A Brown (M Cornwell, 58), J Boer (capt), J Forrester, P Buxton.

Treviso: S Mason (D Eigner, 58); S Legg, T Visentin, W Pozzebon, B Williams; F Smith, S Picone (P Travagli, 70); P-J Ribbens (G Faliva, 58), F Ongaro, R Martinez (P Di Santo, 73), C Checchinato, A Gritti (E Pavanello, 73), S Garozzo (J Erasmus, 50), S Palmer, S Orlando (M Montani, 73).

Referee: E Darriere (France).