Gloucester use elements best

Gloucester 46 Ebbw Vale 11
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The shed faithful were finally able to start singing in the rain as Gloucester moved, or should that be swam, their way into the semi-finals of the Parker Pen Shield last night.

Victory came at a cost, however, as the home side lost their second row Adam Eustace with a broken leg after nine minutes. With a whole front row currently missing through injury and suspension, Eustace's misfortune couldn't have come at a worse time.

Ebbw Vale had first use of the driving wind and rain, but took a long time to come to terms with the conditions and their opponents. Ludovic Mercier turned the home side's early pressure into points with three penalties before Gareth Cull replied with a goal of his own.

Those points gave the Welshmen new heart and they began to win possession and get their forwards rolling. After one charge to the edge of the Gloucester 22, scrum-half Kevin Ellis chipped to the left corner. His rolling chip kick caused panic in the defence and James Simpson-Daniel and Daren O'Leary missed the ball to allow the advancing Andrew Wagstaff to pounce for a try.

As the conditions worsened, so Ebbw rode their luck and on the stroke of half-time Cull kicked a second penalty to give the visitors a two-point advantage at the break.

With the elements at their backs, Gloucester completely dominated the second half as they notched 37 unanswered points to power their way through to the last four of a competition that provides the winners with a place in the Heineken Cup next season.

As Ebbw fell foul of the Italian referee, and had three players – Paul Matthews, Gareth Cull and Kevin Ellis, sent to the sin-bin – so Gloucester grabbed tries through O'Leary, Simpson-Daniel, Jake Boer and replacement James Forrester.

Gloucester: Tries O'Leary, Simpson-Daniel, Boer, Forrester; Conversions Mercier 4; Penalties Mercier 6. Ebbw Vale: Try Wagstaff; Penalties Cull 2.

Gloucester: D O'Leary (H Paul, 70); J Simpson-Daniel (M Garvey, 70), T Fanolua, R Todd, D Albanese: L Mercier, A Gomersall; P Collazo, C Fortey, F Pucciariello (A Deacon, 22), M Cornwell, A Eustace (R Fidler, 9), J Boer (capt), A Hazell (J Forrester, 70), J Paramore.

Ebbw Vale: M James; A Takarangi (D Weatherley, 71), R Shorney, P Matthews, A Wagstaff; G Cull, K Ellis; I Thomas, L Phillips (J Evans, 71), M Jones, C Billen (capt), O Booyse, 58), N Edwards, K Tuipolotu, P Williams, W Thomas.

Referee: G Di Santis (Italy).