Gloucester avoid embarrassment with try by May

Gloucester 23 Connacht 19


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).


Tries: Taylor, May

Cons: Taylor, Burns

Pens: Taylor, Burns 2


Try: O'Halloran

Con: N O'Connor

Pens: N O'Connor 4

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game