Gloucester up and running after bonus-point win

Date published: December 8 2019

Gloucester picked up their first Champions Cup win of the season on Sunday, overcoming Connacht 26-17 to keep alive their qualification hopes.

A brace from Tom Marshall plus a try apiece from Louis Rees-Zammit and Jake Polledri saw the Cherry and Whites to a bonus-point triumph.

John Porch and Quinn Roux responded for Connacht as they drop to the bottom of Pool 5 and will look for revenge next weekend in Galway where there will almost certainly be a fair few who get a bonus code for Matchbook to back said revenge.

After five consecutive defeats, including two in Europe, Gloucester badly needed a victory to get their season back on track, but it took them some time to quell a very ordinary Connacht.

Gloucester started strongly to take a fourth-minute lead, as excellent ball retention and neat passing created the space for Marshall to break through the visiting defence for the opening try.

Connacht’s response was swift, with their full-back Porch evading a couple of defenders to level the scores.

A high tackle by home prop Val Rapava Ruskin was penalised for Connacht to secure a platform in their opponents’ 22. From there, Gloucester conceded another penalty, which Jack Carty kicked to give his side a 10-7 lead at the end of an evenly contested first quarter.

The home side continued to fall foul of French referee Pascal Gauzere, with their momentum being continually stopped by the award of frequent penalties at the breakdown for not releasing.

Despite this hindrance, Gloucester should have regained the lead when Mark Atkinson – who had only just returned to the field after treatment for a cut head – burst through, but the centre blew a golden opportunity by going it alone when Joe Simpson was free outside him.

The hosts maintained their poor discipline, but Carty was unable to capitalise as he failed with a long-distance attempt to leave Gloucester trailing 10-7 at half-time.

Gloucester were back in front five minutes after the restart, when Danny Cipriani – inside his own 22 – intercepted a telegraphed pass from Carty to race away and provide Rees-Zammit with an easy run-in.

Another error from Carty, this time a badly directed punt straight into touch, surrendered possession to Gloucester, but they too continued to make elementary mistakes with neither side being able to bring any continuity to their game.

Carty was replaced by Conor Fitzgerald before wing Kyle Godwin was yellow carded for repeated team infringements as Connacht kept their finger on the self-destruct button.

The hosts immediately capitalised on Godwin’s absence with two tries in quick succession. Marshall scored his second before Polledri’s effort secured a bonus point.

Godwin returned but Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees replaced him in the sin bin, which allowed the Irish province to pick up a consolation try from Roux.