Gloucester grind out rare away win

Harlequins 0 Gloucester 16
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The Independent Online

This was a throwback to the dark ages of amateur rugby, when games, more often than not, were low-scoring, but this was as important a victory as they come for Gloucester.

Pretty it was not, but none of the Cherry and White supporters among the 6,223 crowd at The Stoop were complaining about that. They have never done "pretty" in Gloucester, and their victory ended an away run of Premiership defeats stretching back to March and helped them edge Harlequins out of second place on points difference.

Duncan McRae certainly brought a lot of class to the Gloucester No 10 shirt. There were some polished touches from the former Waratah throughout and he is clearly going to prove quite an asset.

Gloucester had arrived at the Stoop with history - four wins in their last five visits - but the party atmosphere engendered by the big screen at one end of the pitch, to allow the crowd to watch England's World Cup triumph against South Africa, was soon dispelled by events, or more accurately non-events, on the pitch as a sterile first half unfolded.

The first sign that fortune was favouring the west country side came after a quarter of an hour, when Harlequins lost their dynamic hooker Tani Fuga, and the second came on the half-hour when Quins' speed merchant Ugo Monye hobbled off. Both were suffering from knee injuries.

Up to that point the home side had managed to deny Gloucester a score, although Henry Paul did miss two early kicks at goal. Jim Evans, the Harlequins lock, was at his mobile and threatening best, but Gloucester are not a side to waste any opportunity to counterattack, which they did when James Simpson-Daniel intercepted a Quins pass and sent No 8 James Forrester on a rapid run into the home half.

Although the move broke down the visitors would not be budged, and eventually won Paul a third chance at landing a penalty. This time the ball sailed over.

By now it was Gloucester who were showing more enterprise and willingness to run the ball, and they reached the interval in Quins' half and in charge.

Missed penalties by Paul and the usually reliable Quins outside-half Paul Burke marked the a start of the second period, but the Gloucester man got back on target first and increased his side's lead from narrow to slender.

Just after Paul landed his third successful penalty Burke suffered the ignominy of being replaced with some 10 minutes left to play, and as he left the field, to be replaced by the Irishman Andy Dunne, the impression was that Quins' dwindling hopes of victory left with him. And so it proved.

Gloucester finished with a cruel flourish when Robert Todd intercepted Dunne's telegraphed pass in the second minute of added time, to give himself an easy run-in for a try that was converted by Paul.

Harlequins: G Duffy; S Keogh, M Deane, A Reay, U Monye (R Jewell, 30); P Burke (A Dunne, 71), B Willis; C Jones (M Worsley, 50), T Fuga (J Hayter, 16), L Gomez (J Dawson, 50), B Davison, J Evans (R Winters, 71), P Sanderson, T Diprose, A Vos (capt; L Sherriff, 22-29).

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, R Todd, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Page; P Johnstone, C Fortey (S Brotherstone, 74), A Deacon (A Olver, 80), A Eustace (M Cornwell, 67), A Brown, J Boer (capt), J Forrester, A Hazell (P Buxton, 58).

Referee: S Leyshon (Bristol).