Gloucester United have leapfrogged Newcastle Falcons into second place in the Aviva A League following a 44-7 victory over the Tyneside club at Hartpury College.
Gloucester were out of the blocks in emphatic fashion, scoring two tries in the space of four minutes thanks to skipper Will James and No.8 Gareth Evans respectively.
Switching the ball from side to side at pace from kick-off, United worked through the phases before James crossed on the overlap to touchdown in the corner. Burns was unable to convert and the hosts were 5-0 ahead.
The Cherry and Whites grabbed their second after Burns’ penalty deep into touch gave his side perfect field position in which to attack. From the resulting lineout the Gloucester heavies motored towards the line with Evans adding the finishing touches to a rolling maul. This time Burns added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
Ryan Mills scored try number three on 11 minutes, squeezing in at the corner after excellent work from the home pack. Working through the phases, the ball was shifted to the blindside for the centre to cross the whitewash.
Gloucester claimed the try bonus point just shy of the midway point in the first-half with a carbon-copy of the previous score. Overpowering the Falcons in the physical stakes, United were now in the ascendancy at 22-0 with Burns’ subsequent conversion failing to hit the target.
Despite the early Gloucester onslaught, Newcastle came into the contest, and with the half hour mark looming they exerted sustained pressure on their opponent’s line. Scrum-half Warren Fury looked sharp at the breakdown with some slick passing, and his looping pass to Ollie Walker on the far side almost produced a try, but the ball was knocked-on with the line beckoning.
With the Falcons now camped inside Gloucester’s 22 it was going to take something special for the West Countrymen to conjure up their next points of the game. And so it proved when Burns pounced on a loose ball before deftly chipping over the top for Dan Robson to give chase, who in turn fed Matt Cox for an easy run to the line. Burns slotted home the conversion to increase the gap to 29-0.
It took Gloucester just 10 minutes of the second-half to pick up where they had left off before the break with Drew Cheshire scampering in for a try. The Falcons had come out of the dressing room in positive mood, and an improvement in their go forward and aggression was evident. However, a stray Falcons pass was hacked forward by Gloucester to set-up an attack. Following a series of drives towards the line, Cheshire nipped through a gap to score. Replacement fly-half Reece Boughton took over the kicking duties, but was unable to add gloss to the score and the Falcons had a mountain to climb at 35-0 down.
Two minutes later Ryan Charles scored Gloucester’s seventh try of the evening, taking advantage of a neat Lewis Ludlow offload to slide over. Again Boughton skewed the conversion wide but it paled into insignificance with the deficit now at 39-0 with 20 minutes still to go.
To Newcastle’s credit they continued to show ambition in attack and this bore fruit with just over 10 minutes remaining. Phil Godman was the architect, hitting Harris with a neat flat pass to set the Cumbrian on his way to the line. Harris was hauled down just short of the line, but were awarded a scrum five metres from United’s line. Replacement No.9 Jonny Burn fed the scrum and moved the ball to the openside where James Hallam was lurking to crash over. Godman’s simple conversion reduced the arrears to 39-7.
Cheshire put the icing on the cake for the Kingsholm club with the last play of the match courtesy of a Cheshire try in the corner, his second of the game. Boughton missed the conversion and the game ended 44-7 in favour of Gloucester.
Gloucester United: 15 Charlie Norman, 14 Steph Reynolds, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Drew Cheshire 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 1 Will Davies, 2 Dan George, 3 Tom Heard, 4 Will James (c), 5 Tom Hicks, 6 Lua Lokotui, 7 Matt Cox, 8 Gareth Evans
Replacements: 16 James Gibbons, 17 Ryan Charles, 18 Richard Jones, 19 Simon Linsell, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Reece Boughton, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Ben Roberts
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Craig Willis, 14 Nathan Bailey, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Ollie Walker, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Warren Fury (c), 1 Gary Strain, 2 David Nelson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Josh Hedley, 5 Will Witty, 6 Ben Morris, 7 Dan Temm, 8 Ollie Hodgson
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 James Hallam, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Nick Cairns, 20 Anthony Rumis, 21 Jonny Burn, 22 Josh Bragman, 23 Luke Wilson