Heineken Cup round-up Heroic failure for weakened Gloucester

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The Independent Online

Sometimes it is difficult even in a pantomime to know whether to boo or cheer. So how to react to Gloucester?

The Cherry and Whites headed off to face Munster at Thomond Park, the scene of the "Miracle Match" between the sides in the Heineken Cup 10 years ago, with a team showing 12 changes from the one that beat Perpignan on the opening day of this competition. Boo.

Once there, they put up something of a heroic performance to hang on to Munster's coat-tails for an hour when, trailing 16-10, they still had some hope. Cheer.

But wasteful Munster held sway and once they had forced a penalty that Ian Keatley kicked, the game was pretty much up for Gloucester. A converted try by Johne Murphy, to add to Damien Varley's first-half score, put the seal on it for Munster, for whom Keatley kicked 16 points in a 26-10 victory.

So heroic failure for Gloucester, but should they be cheered for effort or booed for ruining their chances before the off? Disappointing for the paying public either way.

Scarlets fought out a remarkable 26-26 draw with Racing Metro at Llanelli in Pool Four. Fly-halves Rhys Priestland and Jonny Sexton kicked 16 points apiece and both sides scored two tries each – Scott Williams and Rhodri Williams going over for Scarlets, Wenceslas Lauret and Sakiusa Matadigo for Racing.

Both Leinster and Ulster made it two wins out of two. Leinster top Pool One after Jack McGrath stepped up from the bench to secure their only try of a 19‑7 victory over Castres after an hour. Having fallen behind at Montpellier to Jonathan Pelissie's penalty, Ulster were not headed after Andrew Trimble's 10th-minute try, converted by Paddy Jackson, set them on their way to a 25-8 victory in Pool Five. In Pool Three Connacht thrashed Zebre 33-6 in Italy.

For the final game in the Bledisloe Cup series, which New Zealand had already won, the All Blacks were without their inspirational captain, Richie McCaw, and Steve Hansen turned to Sam Cane, giving the 21‑year-old the chance to establish against Australia that the coach's view of him as a future star was not misguided. Cane did just that in a 41‑33 victory in Dunedin.

Cane provided the impetus for his side, with his defence, linking play, work at the breakdown and storming runs. "He is just getting better and better," Hansen said .