Gloucester too strong for Harlequins in LV= Cup

Gloucester Rugby 25 Harlequins 7

Steph Reynolds scored the pick of the tries as Gloucester Rugby kept their LV= Cup semi-final hopes alive with a comfortable victory over Harlequins at Kingsholm.

Gloucester will now anxiously keep an eye on Sunday’s game between Saracens and Exeter Chiefs, knowing they will qualify for the semi-finals as Pool 1 winners if Sarries lose.

Dan Thomas and the boot of Aled Thomas gave the home side an early advantage although Ugo Monye narrowed the gap before half-time.

However, Jacob Rowan’s close-range score and Reynolds’ impressive effort sealed the win in the second period.

Gloucester have now won each of their six games in 2015 and will take that stunning form into crucial Aviva Premiership Rugby games with Leicester Tigers and London Welsh in the next fortnight.

Director of rugby David Humphreys made just two changes to his starting XV from last week’s 32-25 victory over Ospreys and that continuity paid dividends for the hosts early on.

With just three minutes on the clock, fly-half Aled Thomas opened the scoring from the kicking tee after some good early pressure at the scrum.

And following a scrappy period of play where neither side were able to establish any sort of dominance, the home side extended their lead on 16 minutes.

From an attacking line-out, they launched an inexorable driving maul which resulted in flanker Dan Thomas bundling over for his second try in as many games – Aled Thomas nailing the conversion.

The Cherry and Whites continued to press as and fly-half Thomas slotted a second penalty after Quins were once again penalised at the scrum.

The visitors had barely been in the Gloucester 22 but got themselves back in the game just before half-time as they worked the ball from one side to the other allowing England international Monye to crash over from five metres out.

Ben Botica’s conversion clipped the upright but still bisected the posts to narrow the gap to 13-7 at the break, when Gloucester may have felt the margin should have been greater.

Harlequins carried that momentum into the second half as they laid siege to the opposition 22 but the hosts held firm and notched a second try of their own on 51 minutes.

Several phases of attack were eventually finished off by blind-side flanker Rowan as he barrelled over under the posts, giving Thomas, whose made the original break, the simplest of conversions.

The game became even scrappier and began to peter out as both sides made numerous changes to give their replacements a chance to shine.

But it was three of Gloucester’s starters who combined to wrap up the win 15 minutes from time.

Thomas’ perfectly-timed pass allowed Bill Meakes to crash through the Quins defence before the centre released Reynolds and the winger used his blazing speed to streak over the whitewash.

Thomas couldn’t add the extras and although Reynolds and Kai Little both came close to securing a four-try bonus point in the dying moments, the Cherry and Whites had to settle for a 25-7 win.

And Pool 1 of the LV= Cup will now be decided at Allianz Park on Sunday.

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