Redpath pleased with progress
January 24, 2010
Hat-trick hero Akapusi Qera came in for special praise from his coach © Getty Images
Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath is relishing the prospect of a European quarter-final after his side's 32-23 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
The Premiership side's victory was not enough to see them progress in the Heineken Cup but they have been rewarded with a place in the last eight of the second-tier Challenge Cup where they will face a trip to English rivals London Wasps.
"There was a quarter-final place at stake today, and it is a big thing," Redpath said. "It was a big match for us. A European quarter-final gives us something to look forward to. We haven't had a great record away from home, and we were aware of that. We got the four tries that we needed."
The former Scotland international paid tribute to Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera who scored a hat-trick of tries before a penalty try sealed the bonus point with six minutes remaining. "Qera is a talent, a handful when he plays like that. It is great to see him back from injury," he said. "I was frustrated with our first-half performance - we did not look energised - but we were a lot stronger in the second period, particularly the forwards. To score four tries away from home is a good return."
The Dragons went into the game with only their pride at stake, and head coach Paul Turner was left to rue his side's high error count after the game. He also quelled any injury fears over the omission of Wales lock Luke Charteris.
"If you make a couple of mistakes, then good sides tend to punish you," he said. "I was quite confident going into the game - Gloucester are not a great away team - but it is tough when you start the second half like we started it. He (Charteris) probably could have played today, but we kept him back for the national side. We could have played him, but it would not have done Luke any favours with the Six Nations coming up."
Meanwhile Cardiff Blues head coach Dai Young anticipates a tough ride at Newcastle in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals after his side booked their place in style with a 45-20 victory against Harlequins.
"It's great to reach the quarters, and while we are disappointed not to go further in the Heineken Cup, we've competed in a very tough group so we are not going to beat ourselves up. Quins fielded a very strong team, and to score six tries against them is hugely satisfying.
"We were very good in attack, sloppy in defence. The Achilles heel for us all season has been a lack of scoring tries, so this will fire everyone up for the rest of the season. The first 10 minutes did not go according to plan, and there was some serious head-scratching out there. But once we settled down, our rugby did the talking and I'm very pleased with the overall performance.
If we don't go on and win the Amlin Challenge Cup, then I hope Scarlets do. We are bitter rivals when we play each other, but it would be good for Welsh rugby if one of us takes it home."
Harlequins head coach John Kingston confessed to being hugely disappointed by his team's poor defending. "Some of our attacking play was very good but, for whatever reason, we chose not to defend. If you do not front up against good teams such as Blues you will get punished, and we were. They were on the front foot, we were on the back foot and we did not make them work hard enough."
Kingston hopes his players can now react to the defeat in the right way. "This has been a hard season for a number of reasons, and we are now facing a crossroads of where we go from here in the remainder of our season. If we had to get turned over, this was the game for it to happen. Physically we were not at the races. If it looked as if we were not up for it nothing could be further from the truth."
Elsewhere, Biarritz coach Jack Isaac was fulsome in his praise of his side's patience after their win over a dogged Glasgow side. "Qualifying for the knockout stage was only half the job done," he said. "We knew we had to win this game because home advantage can be crucial in the quarter-finals. We left it pretty late to get that bonus point but it was credit to the patience of the players. You can't force these things, but they stuck to their guns and had confidence in their ability to get the last try."
"We changed things at half-time by tightening things up and the boys took that on board, especially up front. Our maul was better, we brought on Campbell Johnston who really improved our scrum and we executed things well. That really changed the game. Glasgow are a good side, we knew how dangerous they were in broken play and they showed that with two very good tries. But in the end, the power we had up front was the difference."
Glasgow coach, Sean Lineen expressed his disappointment after an encouraging display. "We were pleased with the way the first half went," he said. "We showed we can score tries at any level against the best sides, despite the wet conditions. But you saw the strength of Biarritz with the guys they brought off the bench and we struggled to match them up front. It's a disappointing way to end the campaign but a lot of the young guys will have learned from this experience."
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery
"England remind me of a PlayStation rugby team," John Mitchell on tactics and the search for a first-choice fly-half ahead of the World Cup
Augustine Pulu will return home with little more than 20 minutes rugby in one month on tour. It is time for more midweek games writes Craig Dowd
Samoa's Sivi Tau says the team "come completely prepared", the reality is a world away. Seilala Mapusua on Samoa and building a future