Thomas inspires Bears to maul his old mates
DAN Thomas came back to haunt his former club as Bristol beat their fierce rivals for the first time in more than a decade.
The Welsh flanker made 11 appearances for Gloucester between 201417 and his ability to win possession at the breakdown was a deciding factor in a deserved Bristol victory.
Gloucester’s academy coach Richard Whiffin said: “Dan is a quality player, he is good over the ball and came back to bite us. His career has kicked on at Bristol and I’m really pleased for him.
“We were slow to react at the breakdown and we didn’t fire a shot in the first half.”
After last week’s impressive win over a youthful Wasps, more of the same was expected from Gloucester especially as they fielded a stronger side with Henry Trinder, Owen Williams and Tom Hudson all returning to their back division.
However, their pack was battered in the scrum and blown away at the breakbut down with frequent handling errors completing a miserable night.
One sharp break from scrum-half Ben Vellacott was their sole contribution to the first half as their out-gunned forwards failed to provide any worthwhile possession for their talented back division.
Hence Bristol didn’t have to play particularly well to win. Thomas and Nick Haining were their leading lights up front but apart from Ryan Edwards, who provided most of the night’s thrills, their backs lacked creation.
Their marquee signing, Charles Piutau came on for his first appearance for the club but despite the huge expectation of the crowd, he failed to make any impression.
Bristol controlled the first half but managed only one score, a converted try from Haining after Edwards had enlivened proceedings with a 40m run.
Edwards had been hauled down by an excellent tackle from Tom Seabrook but after a succession of 5m scrums, at which the visitors were repeatedly penalised, Haining picked up to crash over.
Gloucester’s problems in the scrum continued and when another collapsed, former Bristol and Scotland prop, Kyle Traynor, was sin-binned.
Traynor returned with no addition to the score in his absence both sides lost a player through injury with hooker Tom Lindsay failing a head assessment before Vellacott was helped off with a damaged knee.
Gloucester came back into contention with two penalties from Williams before the hosts resumed their set-piece dominance.
Thomas finished off a driving line-out before Edwards intercepted to run 70 metres but was hauled down by a superb cover tackle from Ollie Thorley.
Aaron Hinkley dived in to prevent Bristol capitalising and was yellow carded before Jake Heenan took advantage by crashing over from the next scrum.
There was just time for Gloucester to earn a scarcely deserved reward.
Thomas was sin-binned as his side repeatedly infringed and the visitors were able to pick up a penalty try when Henry Purdy was tackled early by a subsequently yellowcarded Edwards as he chased a kick ahead from Dom Coetzer.
Triumph: Nick Haining crashes over for Bristol
Held: Bristol’s Charles Piutau is tackled by Henry Trinder