Gloucester flattered by Fanolua

Gloucester 29 Harlequins 23
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Matt Henjak, the Australian international scrum-half signed by Harlequins on a short term contract, is due to return home in December. He may not last that long. In the 18th minute of his debut he took a blow to the nose and was led off for treatment to staunch the blood. A minute before half time he was caught head high by Andy Hazell and went down again, dazed and with blood pouring from his mouth. Welcome to Kingsholm.

Talk about kicking a man when he's down. Or a team, come to that. Henjak's appearance coincided with Quins' gutsiest performance of the season. It didn't stop them from going down to their sixth Premiership defeat in six matches but it would have been criminal had they not finished with something to show for the blood they spilled. Thank goodness then for a penalty in the 84th minute by Jeremy Staunton that provided a bonus point. It might be stretching matters a touch too far to suggest that Quins could have won, but they came far too close for Gloucester's comfort.

How are the fallen mighty. Quins are still rooted to the bottom of the table but they rolled up their multicoloured sleeves and gave Gloucester a match to remember. Playing with a hugely influential wind in the first half, Quins established a 10 point lead within nine minutes. It was Henjak's high kick, brilliantly caught by Ugo Monye, that set up a multi-faceted move which, having stretched the Cherry and White defence from one end of the county to the other, finally resulted in the full-back Gavin Duffy beating James Forrester for the touchdown. Staunton converted to add to an early penalty and the Shed was struck dumb.

The Gloucester supporters began to find their voice when, after Quins had been destroyed at a scrum, Duncan McRae's chip to the corner found James Simpson-Daniel and the wing sprinted over. Henry Paul, who missed the conversion, had earlier kicked a penalty. However, the anticipated onslaught never materialised and but for the inspired running of Terry Fanolua the Cherry and Whites might have been crimson with embarrassment.

Staunton landed a second penalty after Paul had failed to gather a kick and Fanolua then burst through the midfield. Even though he was tackled just short of the line he offloaded to Paul, who crashed over. The try scorer's conversion gave Gloucester a 15-13 lead at half-time.

Quins went into their half-time talk without Henjak, who was receiving treatment on the halfway line, and within a minute of the restart Gloucester increased their lead. Forrester tapped back from a line-out and Christo Bezuidenhout and Andy Gomarsall combined to send Fanolua waltzing through the midfield for a try at the posts.

Gloucester had a nine-point cushion and they needed it. They were prevented from engaging in their party piece of driving from the line-out, Quins preventing their catchers from staying on their feet, and there were heroic performances not only from Henjak but from Monye, George Harder, Andre Vos and Tony Diprose.

Quins came back into it when Diprose, brilliantly gathering a rolling ball, set up Will Greenwood but the England centre didn't have the pace to make the line. However, in the 48th minute Greenwood cut inside and beat several defenders before stretching out to score a trademark try beneath the Gloucester posts. In one spellbinding moment Greenwood displayed the class, strength and judgement that had been singularly lacking, with the exception of Fanolua, from the Gloucester three-quarter line.

Maybe Gloucester were shaken by Quins's tenacious display but whatever the reason their back play was far too casual and loose and the principal culprits were McRae and Paul. Paul's passing was a disgrace. Despite having time and room he invariably hurled out passes that were not so much telegraphed as advertised on the internet. On one occasion Monye nearly pulled off an interception and when presented with another opportunity he did just that and would have scored, but for being caught by Simpson-Daniel, who was alert to the danger.

Gloucester were leading 22-20 when Fanolua once again broke through the heart of the Quins defence for his second and his side's fourth try which earned the home side a bonus point.

Even then Gloucester could not put the result beyond doubt. Their tactical kicking was inept, their handling poor and their judgement even worse. Presented with a penalty from almost in front of the Quins posts they elected to kick to touch and it brought them nothing, and yet a few minutes later Paul attempted a kick at goal from well inside his own half. Like the kicker himself, it came up well short.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, T Fanolua (J Bailey, 76), H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; C Bezuidenhout (T Sigley, 62), O Azam (C Fortey, 57), G Powell (P Vickery, 53), P Buxton, A Brown, J Boer (capt), J Forrester, A Hazell (A Balding, 53).

Harlequins: G Duffy (A Jarvis, 73); G Harder, W Greenwood, D James, U Monye (S Keogh, 72); J Staunton, M Henjak; C Jones, T Fuga, M Lambert (J Dawson, 67), R Winters (K Rudzki, 62), S Miall, N Easter (L Sherriff, 71), T Diprose, A Vos (capt).

Referee: T Spreadbury (Bristol).