|Gloucester (13) 16|
|Try: Ackermann Con: Barton Pens: Barton 3|
|La Rochelle (15) 27|
|Tries: Leyds, Retiere Con: West Pen: West 2, Plisson 3|
Gloucester’s Champions Cup campaign came to an end as La Rochelle squeezed them out of their last-16 tie with a polished performance at Kingsholm.
Dillyn Leyds and Arthur Retiere raced in for the visitors in the first half, with Ruan Ackermann’s close-range score keeping Gloucester in touch.
La Rochelle tightened up their game and turned the screw as Ihaia West and Jules Plisson kicked them out of sight.
Sale or Scarlets will be La Rochelle’s last-eight opponents next weekend.
Gloucester edged out by French high-flyers
Gloucester reached the break just two points off their French visitors and could easily have been further adrift.
La Rochelle, second in the Top 14, bristled with menace in the first half. The visitors’ clever hands and fast feet made them a constant threat.
Gloucester struggled to snuff out the danger at the gain line and were stung when former Saracens second row Will Skelton’s offload led to Leyds going over.
Wing Retiere scorched into the corner after being freed by Levani Botia’s basketball-style pass and Raymond Rhule scampered in, only to have his score ruled out for an accidental offside in a previous phase.
The Cherry and Whites clung in the fight with number eight Ackermann squirming over, but their resistance didn’t survive the second half.
Hampered by a yellow card for skipper Lewis Ludlam and an injury to Charlie Sharples, Gloucester’s belief leaked away.
West and second-half replacement Plisson nudged the French side over the horizon with a steady stream of penalties and field position.
With a home quarter-final to come, La Rochelle, who were celebrating their first knockout win in the Champions Cup at full-time, look an ominous test for anyone.
Barton bridges gap at 10
Twenty-year-old fly-half George Barton has been promoted into the limelight after Danny Cipriani’s mid-season departure and Lloyd Evans’ ankle injury.
His first-team debut was in December’s 55-10 defeat at Lyon and he found himself negotiating another steep learning curve.
The England Under-20 international missed a couple of touch-finding penalty kicks, was exposed in defence by one scything run from Ihaia West and rattled by a big hit by Victor Vito.
But he never hid from contact or responsibility and was perfect off the tee.
Scotland’s Adam Hastings, arriving from Glasgow in the summer, is set to supplant Barton in the pecking order and give the youngster a chance to develop in lower-profile outings.
Gloucester: Carreras, Sharples, Harris, Atkinson, May, Barton, Heinz, Rapava Ruskin, Walker, Balmain, Slater, Alemanno, Reid, Ludlow, Ackermann.
Replacements: Twelvetrees for Sharples (47), Chapman for Heinz (62), Craig for Alemanno (62), Clarke for Reid (38), Clement for Ackermann (70). Not Used: Socino, Seville, Ford-Robinson.
Sin Bin: Ludlow (48)
La Rochelle: Leyds, Retiere, Rhule, Botia, Favre, West, Kerr Barlow, Priso, Bosch, Joly, Sazy, Skelton, Liebenberg, Gourdon, Vito.
Replacements: Bourgarit, Wardi, Atonio, Lavault, Alldritt, Berjon, Plisson, Doumayrou.