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Gloucester Rugby return to the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday as they welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles to Kingsholm Stadium on Saturday.
Gloucester, who sit fourth in the Gallagher Premiership, were in the EPCR Challenge Cup last season, going out to Saracens in the quarter-finals.
The hosts will take heart from Bordeaux’s dismal away record, with the French side failing to win away from home since May 2021. However, they have won all bar one of their home games in this season’s TOP 14 and will provide a stern test for George Skivington’s men.
Bordeaux were Heineken Champions Cup semi-finalists in 2021 and progressed to the Round of 16 last time out, losing to eventual champions Stade Rochelais.
The Pool A match will be shown on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby, with kick-off at 15:15 (UK and Irish time).
2021 Semi-Finals ✅
2023 Final 👀
Can @UBBrugby go one better this season and reach a #HeinekenChampionsCup Final for the first time? 💪
Preview 👉 https://t.co/jJ4YIc7lTe pic.twitter.com/KbSkNVVDwW
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 8, 2022
Alex Craig (Gloucester Rugby): “[The Kingsholm crowd is] massive. It always is. It’s always like our 16th man. The Shed, I’m sure, will be very up for that game. I think there’s that extra special touch. Every game that we play in the Premiership is massive, but I think Heineken Champions Cup is a little bit different in that sense. It’s definitely special.”
- Gloucester Rugby’s Santiago Socino finished last season as the EPCR Challenge Cup’s top try scorer with four. Three of these came in a single match against Dragons RFC in Round 5.
- Gloucester made more box kicks in the EPCR Challenge Cup last season than any other club, putting up 71 in total.
- Gloucester not only scored the most maul tries in the EPCR Challenge Cup (eight) but also made the most maul metres (264).
- Ruan Ackermann has made more carries than any other player in the Gallagher Premiership this season (138), making dominant contacts with 49 of these – more than any other player in the league.
- Full back Nans Ducuing made more carries in a single match last season than any other player, getting his hands on the ball 23 times against Leicester Tigers in Round 1.
- Union Bordeaux-Bégles managed the most line out steals in the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup (eight, equal with Leinster).
- UBB haven’t won away from home since May 2021 in all competitions.
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Gloucester Rugby produced an extraordinary comeback to win 22-17 and stun a Union Bordeaux-Bègles side that had controlled the game for the first hour of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup contest.
The hosts got off to a nightmare start, with a missed tackle leaving Sipili Falatea free to charge over for a try inside two minutes.
After Zack Holmes extended Bordeaux’s lead to 10 points with a simple penalty, Gloucester finally got themselves on the board, with a delightful offload from Santiago Socino sending Stephen Varney in under the posts.
The outstanding Tom Willis responded for Bordeaux, his effort deemed to have been grounded after a lengthy TMO check, meaning that the away side went into half-time 17-5 up.
Gloucester improved after the break with a few deft offloads and no-look passes leading to sporadic breaks. But they were turned over and forced into errors too easily by a well-drilled, powerful Bordeaux side, and it looked as though the game was slipping away.
Comeback complete ✅@charliechapmanc scores the go-ahead try as @gloucesterrugby score 17 unanswered points in the second half to seal an incredible #HeinekenChampionsCup comeback 🍒 pic.twitter.com/K0YxDZsRxM
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 10, 2022
But Holmes dragged a penalty wide and missed the chance to extend Bordeaux’s lead beyond two converted tries, Gloucester then sensed hope of snatching a comeback victory.
And when Albert Tuisue celebrated his return from a ban by powering over to reduce the deficit, the home crowd found their voice and the momentum changed.
Another try from Socino reduced the deficit to 17-15, but the conversion was missed amid claims of an early charge on Santiago Carreras from the away side.
But it didn’t matter, as Charlie Chapman went in under the posts to complete the comeback, and Gloucester saw the game out, spurred on by a raucous Kingsholm crowd.
Gloucester face the daunting task of a trip to the RDS Arena to take on last year’s beaten finalists Leinster Rugby next week. Meanwhile, Bordeaux-Bègles will be looking to bounce back at home to a Cell C Sharks side that beat Harlequins in their opener.
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