Gloucester avoid embarrassment with try by May

Gloucester 23 Connacht 19

Kingsholm

Christmas cheer will be in short supply at Castle Grim. True, Gloucester won their first home match for the better part of two months, but the manner of their success did not bode well for the new year.

Notionally, they remain in contention in Pool Six of the Heineken Cup, where they await the result of today's match between Toulouse and Harlequins, but their starting XV suggested strongly that the Aviva Premiership is now their priority. Few teams have made more mistakes in a European match and won, and they owed victory to a missed tackle by the replacement Connacht hooker, Adrian Flavin.

Flavin found himself faced by one of the faster men on the field, JohnnyMay, as Gloucester searched for a gap some 30 metres from the Connacht line without looking likely to find one. But once May had stepped out of the tackle there was nothing to stop his flight to the corner. Freddie Burns nailed the conversion.

So from the prospect of a first Heineken Cup win, Connacht had to be content with a losing bonus point. The least-considered of the four Irish provinces deserved more: Niall O'Connor's kicking kept their noses in front until four minutes remained, and had Kyle Tonetti made the line after being sent clear by Tiernan O'Halloran, it might have been enough.

O'Halloran and Eoin Griffin have attracted the interest of Ireland's selectors, and with six of the Connacht team having Premiership experience, Kingsholm held no great fears. "We were in control of the game and our own destiny," said Eric Elwood, Connacht's coach. "To lose in the manner we did, after all the good rugby we played, was difficult to take."

Seldom will Gloucester's kicking have found defenders with such accuracy. Having won in Galway a week earlier, and exerted a degree of dominance at the set-piece, they might have expected to kick on at home, but once they had conceded O'Halloran's early try they found it nigh-on impossible to build any kind of platform. Even when they changed their half-backs in the third quarter, Gloucester's handling lacked accuracy. The likes of Nick Wood, Will James and Burns, virtual ever-presents this season, came off the bench but their endeavours were undermined by the misjudgements of colleagues.

"We looked a bit nervous, a bit cautious as well," said Bryan Redpath, the Gloucester head coach. "We've had a tough two or three months, lost three on the bounce at home – a lot of people remind us of that. Maybe it was a bit smothering for some people, and I don't think the crowd were wrong [at half-time] to show their feelings."

It started well enough, James Simpson-Daniel carving open the midfield and Tim Taylor, replaced at half-time because of a damaged thumb, kicking a penalty. But when Frank Murphy intercepted on halfway from Charlie Sharples, Connacht flooded forward and Gavin Duffy and George Naoupu made the try for O'Halloran.

Gloucester recovered the lead when Taylor dummied through behind a five-metre scrum, but by the interval O'Connor had kicked two penalties, and his third just after half-time gave Connacht a six-point lead. There was a composure to them which kept Gloucester at arm's length but Burns levelled with two penalties, one from close range and one from more than 40 metres.

A crowd of over 10,000 had every right to expect more than that, and when O'Connor edged Connacht back ahead there was no reason to suppose the Irish would not hold out. Johnny O'Connor waged a remarkable contest for the loose ball and Paul O'Donohoe nearly skipped clear at a ruck before Gloucester got back into their opponents' half.

It seemed their chance had gone when Scott Lawson dropped the ball in midfield, but it went backwards and Gloucester kept pressing. May took his chance and Connacht could do no more.

Gloucester O Morgan; C Sharples (J May, 68), M Tindall, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, J Simpson-Daniel; T Taylor (F Burns, 41), N Runciman (R Lawson, 49); D Murphy (N Wood, 56), S Lawson(M Cortese, 76), R Harden (S Knight, 65), P Buxton (W James, 68), J Hamilton, B Deacon, L Narraway (capt), A Hazell (A Qera, 49).

Connacht G Duffy (capt); M McCrea (K Tonetti, 26), E Griffin, D McSharry, T O'Halloran; N O'Connor, F Murphy (P O'Donohoe,58); B Wilkinson, E Reynecke (A Flavin, 56), R Loughney (R Ah You, 58), G Naoupu, M McCarthy (M Kearney, 68), D Gannon(E McKeon, 52), J Muldoon (Kearney, 68-73), J O'Connor.

Referee L Hodges (Wales).

Gloucester

Tries: Taylor, May

Cons: Taylor, Burns

Pens: Taylor, Burns 2

Connacht

Try: O'Halloran

Con: N O'Connor

Pens: N O'Connor 4

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice