Gloucester held on for a hard-fought 14-10 win over Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.
Gloucester held on for a hard-fought 14-10 win over Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday to keep their slim Heineken Cup hopes alive.
In a ferocious contest that was short on points but not on intensity, the visitors were pushed all the way by a Connacht side that battled tooth and nail for survival in their first Heineken Cup season.
But it wasn't to be. Gloucester led 11-7 at half time and played percentage rugby into the stiff wind in the second period to maintain their advantage until the final whistle.
Freddie Burns got things moving for Gloucester with two penalties in the opening quarter of the game. The first was a great strike from long-range, and Burns was unlucky to hit the post with a third attempt in the 21st minute.
Niall O'Connor missed the chance to get Connacht on the score sheet when his own penalty attempt drifted wide.
The first try of the game was scored on the half-hour and it was the visitors who grabbed it, when James Simpson-Daniel crossed after great hands had created the opportunity.
The conversion was missed and the 11-point lead that Gloucester had established was dented minutes later when Gavin Duffy stepped his way over to score for Connacht, after the ball was sent skyward by the boot of O'Connor.
The conversion was added and the score was still 7-11 by the time half-time arrived, with Gloucester seeing a try ruled out by the video referee.
The second period was nip and tuck, with no further tries coming, but excitement in abundance as things got heated.
O'Connor took Connacht to within a single point of Gloucester following the restart with a penalty, after Gloucester were penalised following a period of intense home pressure.
The visitors were then forced to absorb wave after wave of attack from their hosts but they defended valliantly, and their efforts were rewarded on 72 minutes when Burns kicked them to four in front.
Connacht desperately searched for a winning try, but it wasn't to be and Gloucester held on for a crucial victory.
Pens: Burns 2
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Kyle Tonetti, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Dave Gannon, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.
Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Peter Buxton, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Will James, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Jonny May.
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)