Gloucester minds diverted by 15-try demolition of Italians

By Paul Trow
Sunday 06 January 2002 01:00

The Gloucester faithful turned up en masse at Kingsholm yesterday, not so much to watch the massacre of GRAN Parma in the Parker Pen European Shiled as to demonstrate their support of the club.

First they raised the rafters in response to an announcement by the owner, Tom Walkinshaw, that Newcastle's director of rugby, Rob Andrew, will not be allowed into Kingsholm again until he apologises for accusing the Gloucester hooker, Olivier Azam, and a number of spectators of racial abuse. Then they held a collection to raise funds should a legal action against Andrew prove necessary. In a statement, the Gloucester Rugby Supporters' Association said: "Andrew chose to make his remarks in the forum of a press room. It is our aim that he will be called upon to substantiate them in a higher forum, the royal courts of justice."

Despite the one-sided contest, 6,500 fans saw Gloucester beat the Italians 99-0 with Daren O'Leary scoring five of their 15 tries and Henry Paul clocking up 29 points.

But Gloucester have still not clinched a quarter-final place because La Rochelle staged a late rally to win 32-29 at Caerphilly and keep alive their hopes of topping Pool Seven.

None of the six English clubs which head their pools have yet secured a place in the last eight. Leeds, thanks to tries from Justin Wring, Jamie Mayer and Dan Scarborough, moved closer in Pool Three with a 26-25 success at Beziers. London Irish look odds-on to top Pool Six after seeing off L'Aquila 32-8. Saracens should extend their lead in Pool Eight today at home to Dinamo Bucharest, but Sale's Pool Four celebrations are on ice following the postponement of their home meeting with Narbonne.

Connacht, for whom Wayne Munn ran in a hat-trick of touchdowns and Eric Elwood kicked eight out of nine conversions, moved two points closer to Sale after hammering Roma 61-13.

Munster defied the absence through injury of Irish internationals John Hayes, Rob Henderson, Peter Stringer and David Wallace to book a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive season with a 51-17 win in Pool Four over Harlequins at Thomond Park.

Six more full caps – Dominic Crotty, Jason Holland, Frankie Sheahan, Mick Galwey, Alan Quinlan and Anthony Foley – crossed the visitors' line while Ronan O'Gara kicked 21 points. Nick Duncombe and Tony Diprose went over for Quins, whose scoring was completed by the boot of their Irish fly-half Paul Burke.

Stade Francais moved clear in Pool Two with a 59-6 romp at Treviso in which Italy's fly-half Diego Dominguez was on target with all eight conversions. But Ulster could draw level with the French side if they beat injury-depleted Wasps at Loftus Road today.

Wins over Uruguay (54-0) and South Africa (12-7) took England into the last eight of the IRB World Sevens Series in Chile. They lost 17-15 in their final group game with France, but by then their focus had shifted to last night's quarter-final with the Springboks.

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