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Hibbard makes surprise appearance

Wales hooker Richard Hibbard is set to be caught in a club versus country tangle this weekend after coming on as a replacement for Gloucester in their 22-15 Aviva Premiership defeat to Harlequins at Kingsholm.

Hibbard came on for the last seven minutes of the match which will infuriate Welsh national coach Warren Gatland who did not include him for selection against Fiji in Cardiff on Saturday due to an ankle injury.

Fly-half Billy Twelvetrees kicked four penalties and replacement Aled Thomas landed one for Gloucester against tries for Quins by number eight Nick Easter, flanker Luke Wallace and wing Charlie Walker, with fly-half Nick Evans booting a penalty and two conversions.

But it was the sight of Hibbard running out onto the field as a replacement for hooker Darren Dawidiuk that will have Gatland seething. Earlier on Friday, Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said he would 'jeopardise his position' with them if he came off the bench.

On the pitch, Twelvetrees, at stand-off instead of James Hook who was called up by Wales during the week and was one of seven Gloucester men on international duty, who made the biggest impact in the opening half.

Twelvetrees, returned from the national squad this week, gave England coach Stuart Lancaster something to think about ahead of the clash against Samoa at Twickenham in eight days.

He was in fine form around the pitch and booted four out of six first-half penalties, one from just inside his own half to put the Cherry and Whites into a 12-0 lead.

And it could have been more as Quins, with six regulars on international duty, struggled to get out of the starting blocks for half an hour. A desperate tackle from Quins centre George Lowe just denied full-back Rob Cook a try after he was put in by winger Henry Purdy.

Suddenly, Quins woke up and wing Charlie Walker almost got a touchdown as his kick ahead on the right bounced near the line. Home wing Charlie Sharples made a hash of collecting the loose ball and nearly handed it back to Walker but somehow saved his own bacon.

It was only temporary relief, though. Gloucester seemed to lose their thread and, from an attacking line-out five metres from the Cherry and Whites end, Quins rolled an maul for lock George Robson to drive skipper Easter over the line.

Evans converted and then landed a 35 penalty five minutes from the break to put his team right back in the match.

And the Londoners grabbed the bull by the horns after the interval. Tight-head prop Kyle Sinckler was a thorn in the Gloucester defence's side and wing Ollie Lindsay-Hague came within 10 metres of a try on the left but was bundled into touch.

For all their endeavour , Quins failed to score as the Cherry and Whites slowly re-gained their composure, forced mistakes but, now, Twelvetrees had lost his accuracy and failed with two long-range penalties.

But Quins burst back into life and the rolling maul tactic which brought Easter his try did the trick again as they swirled the home eight around left and right for flanker Wallace to touchdown in front of the posts, making Evans' second conversion simple.

Replacement Thomas landed a fifth Gloucester penalty to claw it back to 17-15 but the victory was sealed when Evans kicked through a gap to send Walker over for the score to give Quins a great win on the road and Gloucester only a losing bonus point.


From Belfast Telegraph