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LV=Cup: Gloucester beat Newcastle 20-3 at Kingsholm
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Gloucester kick-started their LV=Cup campaign with a comfortable 20-3 victory over Newcastle but the win was marred by injuries to Ryan Mills and James Simpson-Daniel.
The pair were carried from the field in the first half and while the hosts were the better side throughout a poor game, the two injuries disrupted the flow to the match and it took some time for them to finish off the opposition.
Rob Cook scored an early try but it was not until the final quarter that the Gloucester emphasised their superiority.
Newcastle were very disappointing. They made far too many basic errors and although their defence frustrated the hosts for long periods, at no stage did the visitors look dangerous.
In contrast, Gloucester had some creative players in Freddie Burns and Cook and there was a committed performance from Mike Tindall, who was rewarded with his side's second try.
Nick Wood returned to the Gloucester side after serving a suspension for stamping, with the hosts fielding a strong team which included Burns and Simpson-Daniel. However Jonny May was a late withdrawal through illness.
Newcastle made eight changes in their starting line-up from last week's home win over London Irish with international forwards Carlo Del Fava and Ally Hogg both recalled.
The hosts made a positive start, moving the ball wide at every opportunity. This ploy was rewarded when a clever inside pass from Mills found Cook in space and the full-back had no problem finding the line for a try which Burns converted.
The Falcons also illustrated a preference for an open game, gaining their first period of pressure when Noah Cato forced Tindall to concede a five-metre scrum.
Newcastle's carelessness cost them a potential try but they obtained some points when Rory Clegg kicked a penalty to leave Gloucester with a 7-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Gloucester suffered a blow when Mills left the action on a stretcher, to be replaced by Steph Reynolds.
The hosts nearly suffered a further setback when Adam Powell burst past an attempted tackle from Dan Robson to threaten the Gloucester line but the Newcastle centre was hauled down 15 metres short.
However matters did not improve for the home side as Simpson-Daniel became their second player to be carried off, with Billy Burns being introduced from the bench.
Gloucester overcame the disruption of losing two three-quarters in quick succession by extending their lead with a penalty from Freddie Burns.
After an enterprising start the game descended into a surfeit of set scrums which prevented any flow to the game.
Referee Gwyn Morris found fault with almost every engagement, much to the annoyance of the home crowd - and it came as no surprise when props Shaun Knight and Rob Vickers were sin-binned for persistent infringement just before the interval.
Gloucester made a lively start to the second half with a second penalty from Freddie Burns putting them further ahead.
With 25 minutes remaining Newcastle swapped their half-backs with Scottish Internationals Mike Blair and Phil Godman introduced in an attempt to raise the Falcons' game.
Freddie Burns had a further penalty chance but his long-range effort rebounded back off a post so it remained at 13-3 at the end of the third quarter.
However, the home side sealed victory when Blair's attempted clearance was charged down by Tindall for the decisive try - which Freddie Burns converted.
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com