Heineken Cup: Gloucester's in-form centre leaves last season's nightmare behind to orchestrate a hard-earned victory

Paul puts history in the past

Gloucester 22 Munster 11

It is too early to talk of redemption but Henry Paul at least went some way last night towards exorcising the ghosts that have been haunting him for 12 months. He was instrumental in converting Gloucester's pressure into points, but the big question remains: will it be enough?

Judging by the extraordinary matches between these two clubs last year, the answer is in the negative. Then, in the first leg at Kingsholm, Gloucester comprehensively outplayed the Irish province, winning 35-16. It seemed that Gloucester, then the pre-eminent club in England, only had to travel safely to Limerick to book their passage through to the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup.

What happened next entered Irish folklore. Gloucester lost their head and their lead. Needing to win by 27 points and to score four tries in the process, Munster did just that in a 33-6 triumph.

The Cherry and Whites behaved like small furry animals trapped in the beam of a floodlight and the biggest rabbit of them all was Paul, who had a nightmare in defence before being mercifully replaced.

Yesterday, then, was something of a cathartic experience for the ex-rugby league star recruited to the West Country at great expense, and he fully deserved to be named the man of another engrossing match.

It did not look at all promising for Gloucester at half-time when Munster, twice beaten finalists in the Heineken Cup, withstood wave after wave of attacks which smashed against the rock of their well-organised and experienced defence. However, with Paul pulling the strings, the picture changed dramatically in the second half.

Paul had put Gloucester ahead with a penalty in the third minute after Munster, for the first but by no means the last time, made a mess of their own line-out throw. Eight minutes later, Ronan O'Gara levelled with a penalty via an upright on one of Munster's rare excursions into enemy territory. Munster did not win much possession, and when they did they kicked it aimlessly to their opponents, who ran it back with a style and purpose that accomplished everything but the end result - a try. They put together some great phases, but had O'Gara been successful with a goal kick in first-half injury time, he would have given his side an improbable lead.

As it was, the score of 3-3 bore no reflection to the play and when Munster launched a rare attack, in which Anthony Horgan and Rob Henderson were prominent, they won a penalty in front of the posts which O'Gara converted to make it 3-6.

Cue Paul. Gloucester needed something different to break down Munster's defence and Paul provided it. In the 46th minute, his perfectly placed grubber kick was well read by James Simpson-Daniel and the left wing easily won the race for the touchdown. Paul's conversion put Gloucester ahead 10-6.A couple of minutes later Paul triedthe same tactic again, putting in a chip towards the posts, where Anthony Foley did brilliantly to gather the ball from under the noses of Fanolua and Marcel Garvey.

Territorially, Gloucester were miles ahead and, as the second half wore on, they began to reap the benefit. In the 57th minute, Gordon McIlwham, who had just come on as a replacement for Marcus Horan, conceded a penalty in front of his posts. Paul made no mistake and added two more as Gloucester, at 19-6, began to compile a useful lead.

Munster, who had been very much on the back foot, gave their considerable support something to cheer when Peter Stringer took a tap penalty and Horgan crashed over for a try.

It was left to Paul to make some sense of the scoreline with a drop goal in the 78th minute before Donncha O'Callaghan was shown a yellow card for an offence on Andy Gomarsall.

The job for Gloucester is only half done. Next Saturday they travel to Limerick for the second leg and they know what to expect. Whether being forewarned is forearmed remains to be seen. Gloucester have Kingsholm, Munster have Thomond Park, both unadulterated, 100 per cent steaming cauldrons of union fanaticism. Home, for these two, is where the heart is.

Nevertheless, on the evidence of last night, not everything is as it was this time last year and perhaps the most promising aspect for Gloucester, aside from the form of Paul, were signs that O'Gara and Stringer are not what they were. Stringer, who is normally more annoying than the most venomous mosquito, had one of his least effective games, while his international partner kicked poorly. His passing was even worse. Next Saturday the pressure may not be so much on Gloucester and Paul, as on Stringer and O'Gara.

Gloucester 22 Munster 11
Try: Simpson-Daniel; Try: Horgan
Con: Paul
Pens: Paul 4; Pens: O'Gara 2
Drop: Paul

Half-time: 3-3 Attendance: 11,000

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, T Fanolua (R Todd, 67), H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; T Woodman, C Collins, A Deacon, A Brown, M Cornwell (A Eustace, 77), J Boer (capt), J Paramore, P Buxton.

Munster: S Payne; J Kelly, M Mullins, R Henderson, A Horgan; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan (G McIlwham, 54), F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, J Williams (capt), A Foley, D Wallace.

Referee: N Williams (Bryncoch).

Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?