The Cherry and Whites duly secured a fifth win in this European competition but were made to work hard to overcome their French visitors before emerging with the win to take top spot in their pool and secure a quarter-final place.
However once again the try-bonus proved to be as elusive as ever and a home quarter-final has not yet been secured as a physically strong La Rochelle team were no soft touch in an infinitely forgettable scrappy struggle of a match.
The bulky visitors were particularly strong in the contact area and although Gloucester built a 17-3 half-time lead anyone who anticipated the French side to loose heart and fade in the second period they were very much mistaken.
Clearly it was not Gloucester’s strongest selection but once again it was the reliable boot of Greig Laidlaw that kept the score ticking over and although full back Rob Cook did get another good try when he fielded the ball on half-way, kicked ahead before hacking the ball over the line to dive over under the posts it was heavy going and hard work. Laidlaw made the easy conversion.
It was not all plain sailing for Gloucester as they regularly fell foul of the referee and some strange decisions.
Gloucester huffed and puffed and despite going close several times a further score eluded them until with most players waiting for the whistle to put an end to a disappointingly dis-jointed first half, Billy Twelvetrees picked up the ball and took advantage with a clear run to the corner. Laidlaw added the extras with an excellent conversion.
After the break it was La Rochelle who provided the brighter play through their strong physical game as the hosts lacked penetration and were unable to make their chances pay.
Just like the pitch, it was heavy going for the Cherry and Whites and Gloucester Rugby must surely now face up to the fact that despite the best efforts of Messrs Balmer & Co. the Kingsholm pitch now needs some serious money spent on it. I guess that with the visit of Lionel Richie and the ‘For Sale’ notices in the background, a Desso pitch it is but a distant dream but we live in hope.
More From Mike
A win is a win and secures top spot in the group and a quarter final
place be it home or away will depend on next weeks result at Zebre.This
was not however the 5 point bonus win that Glos wanted and really
needed, it was a very disjointed and error strewn game.
La Rochelle had nothing to lose and nothing to gain from this game except pride; they certainly played with pride and with passion as their physicality made this game difficult for Glos to see out.
A 17-3 halftime lead looked as if it could be turned into a bonus point win but this was not to be as it was the visitors who controlled most of the second half. So many times have French teams with nothing to play for just turned up at Glos, made it to the pitch and capitulated; not this La Rochelle side.
A win next week is a must if Glos are to get a home quarter final and progress further in this competition. The end of the month sees a return to the Premiership games and several tough games for Glos, games they must win if they are to compete both in the league this year and the Champions Trophy next year. One would say though on yesterdays performance a different mind set will be needed if the latter is to be the case next season.
Oh one other thing please oh please sort the pitch out, time and time again I hear players singing the praise of other teams Desso pitches: I know these concerts bring in a lot of much needed revenue, but please find time and the money, in the close season, to dig up the pitch and replace it with a decent pitch, that will benefit our players.
Charlie Sharples, Mark Atkinson, Billy Twelvetrees, David Halaifonua;
Billy Burns, Greig Laidlaw (capt);
Yann Thomas, Darren Dawidiuk, Nicky Thomas;
Tom Savage, Mariano Galarza;
Jacob Rowan, Ross Moriarty, Lewis Ludlow.
Tom Lindsay, Dan Murphy, Josh McNulty, Joe Latta, Elliott Stooke, Matt Kvesic,
Callum Braley, Steve McColl
Tries: Cook, Twelvetrees
Con: Laidlaw (2)
Pen: Laidlaw (2)
Yellow Card - Mark Atkinson
Referee - David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Attendance - 9,209
Amlin Cup - GLOUCESTER 18 LA ROCHELLE 24 - Sunday 19 December 2010
Gloucester Matches - Match Reports - 2001-2016
European Competitions - Kingsholm Attendances - 1997-2016
European Challenge Cup - 2005-2016