Gloucester count cost of Mannix's misses

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The Independent Online

There is no doubt that Gloucester will lose a few more hours sleep between now and the New Year after wasting this golden opportunity to all but close off Pool Five of the Heineken Cup.

There is no doubt that Gloucester will lose a few more hours sleep between now and the New Year after wasting this golden opportunity to all but close off Pool Five of the Heineken Cup.

The Cherry and Whites, who led their pool going into this often subdued contest at Stade Selery on the outskirts of Toulouse, appeared to have manufactured a third win of the competition when Chris Catling's second-half try put them 19-9 to the good.

However, a lack of concentration, or whatever they wish to put it down to, enabled Colomiers to keep alive their own hopes of reaching the last eight in a frantic finish.

Their hero, just as he had been at Kingsholm seven days earlier, was the fly-half Laurent Marticorena who finished the day with 25 points from a try, conversion, drop goal and five penalties. In contrast, his opposite number Simon Mannix kicked four penalties and a conversion but missed four other kicks at goal. In the end, that was the difference between winning and losing.

Gloucester had been somewhat fortuitous on their own turf last week - a penalty try in the closing seconds of the home game against the same Colomiers side had earned them what might prove to be a significant draw. But on this occasion, there was nothing they could do to repulse Colomiers in a final quarter that saw the French side recover from 19-9 down to win at a canter.

Colomiers struck first through Marticorena's first of five penalties and both teams were level at half-time with the same player adding a drop goal and Mannix helping himself to a brace of penalties.

Unfortunately, the game lacked any real pace or purpose and as hard as Gloucester tried to break down the Colomiers back-line, they found themselves running up blind alleys. Mannix missed a fourth penalty on 44 minutes but did edge Gloucester infront on 49 with his third successful effort. He swapped kicks once again with Marticorena to leave the game deliucately poised at 12-9. However, when Beim set off on a mazy run from his own 10 metre line, there was Catling on his shoulder to cross for a try that Mannix improved.

That should have been that, but for Colomiers and Marticorena there was plenty left in the tank. That bit was not surprising really, because for the previous 60 minutes they had been a shadow of the side that played so well at Kingsholm last week.

Marticorena kicked a third penalty to make it 19-12 and then converted a Yannick Jauzion try to further reduce the deficit. And just to rub salt into the wound, the fly-half converted a fourth penalty to put Colomiers back in front. But the pivot didn't leave it at that. He strolled over in injury time for a try and then with the last kick of the game, put the seal on his side's victory with a fifth penalty.

The Gloucester fly-half Mannix said: "It wasn't a case of being disappointed with our overall performance, just a case of being disappointed to lose. We played badly last week and managed to scrape a draw right at the end but we played better today and just lost it in the final quarter. But there is still plenty of rugby left to play in this pool."

Colomiers: J-L Sadourney (capt); B Lhande, S Roques, Y Jauzion, L Giolitti; L Marticorena, F Galthie; W Begarie (S Delpeuche 41), C Laurent (T Algret, 9), J-F Meslier-de-Rocan, G Moro, J-M Lorenzi (S Hepher, 58), B De Guisti, H Manent (P Magendie, 54) F Ntamack (S Peysson, 56)

Gloucester: C Catling; T Fanolua, J Little, C Yates (F Schizano 75), T Beim; S Mannix, A Gomarsall (E Moncreiff 66mins); P Vickery, O Azam, A Deacon, R Fidler, I Jones, S Ojomoh (A Hazell 46mins), K Jones (capt), J Paramore .

Referee: M Tyndall (Irl).