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May backed for England recall

Published 01/05/2015

Billy Twelvetrees scored a try as Gloucester won the Challenge Cup
Billy Twelvetrees scored a try as Gloucester won the Challenge Cup

Jonny May has launched a strong case for an England recall after proving himself "the most dangerous runner in the Premiership", according to Gloucester boss David Humphreys.

Lightning wing May's snapshot break that almost yielded a stunning try lit up Gloucester's 19-13 Challenge Cup victory over Edinburgh at The Stoop.

The 25-year-old was denied a score by Cornell Du Preez's last-ditch tap-tackle as Gloucester rode out Bill Meakes' red card for their first trophy in four years.

The Cherry and Whites secured a Champions Cup play-off berth with their triumph, denying Sale and Harlequins a tilt at top-tier European qualification.

May lost his England starting shirt to Jack Nowell during the RBS 6 Nations, but rugby director Humphreys backed the Gloucester star to battle back at the World Cup.

"Jonny almost scored the try of the tournament bar that small tap-tackle," said Humphreys.

"Everybody knows the ability Jonny has; the try he scored against the All Blacks in November summed him up.

"We probably as a team haven't gotten him the ball as much as we would have liked throughout the course of the year.

"But you get him the ball and he's the most dangerous runner in the Premiership."

Gloucester stormed into a 19-6 lead courtesy of Billy Twelvetrees' try and 14 points from the boot of Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw against his former club.

The Cherry and Whites then had to contend a yellow card for flanker Ross Moriarty, before Meakes was sent off.

The Gloucester centre tackled Sam Beard high and off the ball, and was dismissed after video review.

Edinburgh launched an immediate comeback, Ross Ford crossing after sustained pressure, but Gloucester clung on to secure their first trophy since the 2011 LV= Cup.

Former Ulster coach Humphreys admitted Meakes left himself open to the dismissal with his challenge on Beard, before hailing his side's strength in the face of adversity.

"In terms of the red card I probably haven't seen it in enough detail," said Humphreys.

"The runner gets in front of the ball so technically it's obstruction. Bill's trying to get out beyond him but he makes contact with the player's head.

"So once that happens you are liable to a penalty, and the referee saw it as a head card.

"I think the yellow card to Ross was fair enough, he's 21 years old, he brings a physical edge but he's got to learn that there's a line you can't cross in the big games."

Gloucester will now face the seventh-placed Guinness Pro12 finisher in the first round of the Champions Cup play-off on May 23.

The Cherry and Whites could wind up taking on Edinburgh again in the European play-offs, with Humphreys delighted to reignite top-tier qualification chances after a disappointing league campaign.

"This has given us another focus with a secondary route into Europe," he said.

"There are probably three teams that still fancy their chances getting into that seventh place from the Pro12.

"We're waiting now to see who will get the home draw, and we'll wait to see who we'll play.

"We think it's a huge achievement, it's not something we talked about at the start of the year.

"In the foundations we have, we know we can compete with everybody, but it's about brining the consistency and a bit of extra depth to add to that."

Edinburgh captain Mike Coman admitted the Pro12 side missed Scotland's best chance yet for a first European trophy - then targeted a Champions Cup play-offs rematch with Gloucester.

"Our first goal is to finish sixth in the league and qualify for the Champions Cup automatically, but if it happens that we play Gloucester in the play-offs that would be nice to get another shot at them.

"We'd be well up for it."

Coach Alan Solomons said conceded Gloucester ultimately deserved victory on the night.

"In the first half we allowed them far too much momentum," said Solomons. " I think our big opportunity was at 19-13 when we pushed into their 22.

"But they forced a turnover and that was a major factor.

"If we could have just kept the ball we had a great chance of scoring, but perhaps on balance they deserved their victory."

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