Pau kicked off this season’s Challenge Cup with a 27-21 win over Gloucester in their Pool 3 fixture at Stade du Hameau on Thursday.
First-half tries from Daniel Ramsay and Colin Slade and one in the second from Frank Halai saw the hungry Top 14 outfit to the four points.
In reply Gloucester’s scorers were Ruan Ackermann, Ben Vellacott and Henry Purdy as they left it late to take a losing bonus-point from France.
Pau would have been happy to go into the break with 14 points to their name and zero against, thanks to two tries in front of their fans.
The first came in rather fortuitous circumstances when flanker Ramsay gleefully gathered Gloucester scrum-half Callum Braley’s stray pass before showing decent speed from 45 metres out, down the right wing for the opening points of the game. Slade nailed the touchline extras.
Slade turned try scorer soon after on 24 minutes as he finished off a lovely interchange with fellow New Zealander Benson Stanley, racing over to cap a move which started just inside their own half. His conversion was much simpler than the first as Pau moved 14 points in front.
Gloucester did have a huge chance to respond but unfortunately for them flank Jacob Rowan was denied less than a metre from the whitewash.
The first score of the second-half was always going to be crucial and it went Pau’s way, with Slade slotting a penalty after centre Billy Twelvetrees was penalised for hands in a ruck. That made it 17-0 with the Cherry and Whites now trailing by three scores after 45 minutes.
Five minutes later Slade made it 20-0 after a careless penalty was given away by Gloucester replacement hooker James Hanson at a breakdown.
Hope for Gloucester did come before the hour mark though when replacement Ackermann crossed in the midst of a driving maul to make it 20-7. And when Vellacott finished off a sustained period of pressure to go over on 70 minutes, suddenly Gloucester were sniffing an unlikely win.
But Halai broke from his own 22 three minutes later to secure the victory for his side, ending the Cherry and Whites’ hopes just as they looked dangerous. They would however sneak a point from the game thanks to a late try from Purdy, with Williams’ touchline conversion decisive.
Tries: Ramsay, Slade, Halai
Cons: Slade 2, Fajardo
Pens: Slade 2
Tries: Ackermann, Vellacott, Purdy
Cons: Williams 3
Pau: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Julien Fumat, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Bastien Pourailly, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Ben Mowen, 6 Daniel Ramsay, 5 Masalosalo Tutaia, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Lucas Rey, 1 Geoffrey Moise
Replacements: 16 Laurent Bouchet, 17 Jérémy Hurou, 18 Malik Hamadache, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Clovis Lebail, 22 Brandon Fajardo, 23 Florian Nicot
Gloucester: 15 Tom Hudson, 14 Henry Purdy, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Freddie Clarke, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Tom Denton, 4 Tom Savage (c), 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Trinder
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Chris Harrington (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)