Challenge Cup: Gloucester 55-0 Brive

By Chris OsborneBBC Sport
Charlie Sharples
Sharples' hat-trick comes after scoring two tries in the Premiership this season
Gloucester (10) 55
Tries: Sharples (3), Hook, Dawidiuk, Robson, penalty Cons: Laidlaw (3), Hook, Cook (2), Robson Pens: Laidlaw (2)
Brive (0) 0

Gloucester marked the start of a new era for European rugby by thrashing Brive in the Challenge Cup.

Europe's competitions were overhauled in the summer and Charlie Sharples celebrated the occasion, and his 150th club appearance, with a hat-trick.

He scored the only try of the first half but added two more after the break, with Darren Dawidiuk and James Hook also going over.

Dan Robson put down a sixth score before a penalty try finished the rout.

The Heineken Cup and Europe's secondary competition the Amlin Challenge Cup were replaced in the summer by the European Rugby Champions Cup - which also starts this weekend - and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

And Gloucester look intent on making a mark upon the tournament's rebirth, naming a strong starting XV that swept away the fragile French side.

Gloucester's Pool 5 fixtures
Round one: Brive (h), wonRound four: Zebre (a)
Round two: Oyonnax (a)Round five: Oyonnax (h)
Round three: Zebre (h)Round six: Brive (a)

Brive played with intent, particularly across their back line, but the crisis of confidence that comes with being one from bottom in the Top 14 was seized upon by the English team.

Sharples had already nearly broken through once when he collected a Jonny May pass to score his first, with Greig Laidlaw tucking away a far from simple conversion.

Guillaume Namy had the ball over the line for the French side, but it was ruled out by the television match official for a knock-on by Baptiste Delage.

And that was as good as it would get for the visitors, as Gloucester showed a ruthless streak after the break which began when Hook powered over from a John Afoa offload.

Sharples claimed his hat-trick by rushing on to two separate kicks through from Laidlaw and Robson.

That was either side of Dawidiuk's finish, which came through good work by Hook, and a quick May tap penalty had Robson in for Gloucester's sixth.

Brive conceded a penalty try at the death to compound a miserable trip to the West Country.

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

"It's job done with a good scoreline and I'm delighted with the way we got the European campaign started.

"We were concerned about coming into the game off the back of two physical games against Leicester and Saracens.

"The big challenge with the players was a mental thing.

"In the first half we made a few mistakes but on the whole it was a very workman-like, professional performance."

Gloucester: Cook; Sharples, Meakes, Twelvetrees (capt), May; Hook, Laidlaw; Thomas, Hibbard, Afoa; Savage, Hudson; Kalamafoni, Kvesic, Morgan.

Replacements: Dawidiuk, Wood, Puafisi, Stooke, Moriarty, Robson, Burns, Atkinson.

Sin Bin: Thomas (53)

Brive: Mafi; Radikedike, Delage, Sanchou, Namy; Swanepoel, Bezy; Asieshvili, Acosta, Jourdain; Marais, Boukerou; Briatte, Luafutu (capt), Murphy.

Replacements: Acquier, Lavergne, Tuncer, Lebas, Sanconnie, Neveu, Neisen, Veyssiere.

Sin Bin: Jourdain (53)

Att: 9,793

Ref: Ian Davies (Wales).