European Challenge Cup: Zebre 11-14 Gloucester

Billy Burns in action for Gloucester against Zebre
Billy Burns has made 10 appearances in all competitions this season
European Rugby Challenge Cup: Pool Four
Zebre (6) 11
Tries: van Schalkwyk Pens: Padovani 2
Gloucester (3) 14
Tries: Atkinson Pens: Burns 3

Gloucester narrowly beat Zebre to deny the Italians a European Challenge Cup quarter-final place.

Zebre led 6-3 at the break, with Edoardo Padovani kicking two early penalties before Billy Burns responded with the boot for Gloucester.

Mark Atkinson went over for Gloucester after Zebre's Federico Ruzza was sin-binned early in the second half.

Fly-half Burns landed penalties either side of Dries van Schalkwyk's late try to seal victory for the trophy holders.

The victory meant Gloucester progress as the only team in the competition with an unblemished record.

Only five of the starting XV that secured top spot in the group and safe passage to the last eight with victory against La Rochelle seven days earlier retained their place for the trip to Parma.

There was no room for Matt Kvesic, the only Cherry and Whites player included in Eddie Jones' new-look England squad, for the last group game.

Worcester, who lost 35-11 to La Rochelle on Friday, finished bottom of Pool Four, 16 points adrift of Gloucester.

Gloucester scrum coach Trevor Woodman told BBC Gloucestershire:

"I don't think it was about getting a try bonus point, it was really about coming out here and getting the victory. You hear coaches say they would sooner win ugly and that was certainly the way of it today.

"It was good that we showed character at the end to be able to get back in the game, get ourselves in front and finish it off. Was it pretty ? Not really, but it doesn't need to be all the time.

"This has been a period where we've been able to rest a lot of players so they'll be fresh and ready to go. There's no LV Cup this year, and we now have 10 Premiership games in a row and over 10 weeks we'll need the whole squad. It's going to be a big battle and it'll pretty much decide where we are at the end of the season."

Zebre: Van Zyl; Berryman, Boni, Pratichetti, L Sarto; Padovani, Palazzani; De Marchi, Fabiani, Ceccarelli, Bernabo, Bortolami (capt), J Sarto, Cook, Van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Coria Marchetti, Postiglioni, Roan, Koegelenberg, Ruzza, Burgess, Beyers, Haimona.

Gloucester: Cook; Halaifonua, Meakes, Atkinson, McColl; Burns, Heinz; Thomas, Lindsay, Doran-Jones, Latta, Galarza, Ludlow, Rowan (capt), Morgan.

Replacements: Dawidiuk, Wood, McNulty, Hicks, Stooke, Braley, Sharples, Evans.

Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)

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