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Gloucester Rugby will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice when they face French opposition for the second time in the Heineken Champions Cup, hosting La Rochelle in the Round of 16 at Kingsholm.
The Gallagher Premiership side were dismantled by Lyon in the pool stage of this year’s competition, falling to a 55-10 defeat in the opening round of action. Gloucester re-grouped in the second round of fixtures, producing a stunning display to defeat Ulster Rugby 38-34.
They face a La Rochelle side that have only taken to the field once in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign in a low-scoring thriller in the Scottish capital, triumphing 13-8 over Edinburgh Rugby – but will need to overturn their historical record against Gloucester.
The action at Kingsholm begins at 20:00 (UK and Irish time) on April 2 and will be available to watch on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and beIN SPORTS in France.
Gloucester Rugby; 8th Pool B; 5 points
La Rochelle; 4th Pool A; 9 points
Gloucester Rugby wins: 6
La Rochelle wins: 1
Leading 2020/21 points-scorers
Gloucester Rugby: Lloyd Evans (9)
La Rochelle: Raymond Rhule, Jérémy Sinzelle (5)
The race for the #HeinekenChampionsCup quarter-finals is ON 👀
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) March 29, 2021
- Mark Atkinson (Gloucester): “We are just starting to find the danger men. We’ve got world class men in the wide channels so we need to give them the ball and let them do stuff. There’s no point us slow boys keeping the ball inside and we’ve probably been doing that too much so give it to some threatening runners and see what they can do.”
- Gloucester and La Rochelle have never met before in the Heineken Champions Cup, however they have clashed nine times before in the Challenge Cup.
- Gloucester have won seven of their previous nine meetings with La Rochelle (all Challenge Cup), including three of their four home games against them.
- Gloucester have won their last three home games in the Heineken Champions Cup; they’ve not enjoyed a longer winning run at Kingsholm since a five-game streak between 2006 and 2008.
- La Rochelle have played four previous away games against Premiership teams in the Heineken Champions Cup, they won the first of those (v Harlequins) but have lost the three subsequent games.
- Gloucester have lost five of their last six Heineken Champions Cup games against TOP 14 opposition, including two losses where they had led at half-time.
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La Rochelle proved too strong for Gloucester Rugby in their Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 clash, eventually running out 27-16 winners at Kingsholm.
The English side ran their French opponents close for an hour, before La Rochelle piled on the pressure that resulted in Ihaia West and Jules Plisson taking full advantage from the kicking tee to help them run out ready winners.
Gloucester did take the lead inside three minutes through a George Barton penalty kick but were soon pegged back shortly after.
It was Will Skelton who found Kevin Gourdon with the try line at his mercy. However, he was cut off short of the line so instead handed to Dillyn Leyds for the simple score.
First two Round of 16 tries go to @staderochelais ⚓️
Arthur Retière dives over for their second to put them in the driving seat 💪
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 2, 2021
Barton nudged Gloucester back ahead but the creative La Rochelle took control shortly after as they spread play back and forth with some stunning handling.
It was Levani Botia who offloaded to Arthur Retiere, with the wing somehow staying in the field of play and diving over under extreme pressure.
The first half ended with a flourish for the hosts though, as George Barton went close to scoring after a neat breakaway but it proved irrelevant as Ruan Ackermann had enough power to get over the whitewash.
The second half was a quieter affair, with Ihaia West and Jules Plisson both slotting over a pair of three-pointers, sandwiched in between a Barton penalty.
La Rochelle will now play the winner of the Scarlets v Sale Sharks tie at home in the quarter-finals on the weekend of 9/10/11 April.