Robust Gloucester battle past Perpignan to put a few bricks back in the Kingsholm fortress wall
GLOUCESTER 27 PERPIGNAN 22
NOT even the intransigence of the television match official could deny Gloucester putting a few bricks back in the Kingsholm fortress walls.
This proud stadium crumbled a little after last weekend’s lacklustre 29-12 Exeter Chiefs defeat.
But under lights and on the big European stage, something magic tends to happen at this famous, proud ground.
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Jimmy Cowan and Jonny May had scores chalked off – Cowan’s particularly harshly – but still Gloucester battled back for victory in their opening Heineken Cup pool six encounter.
It was not until May raced home with six minutes to play though that Gloucester could start to believe they had beaten their Exeter demons.
Ryan Mills’ delicious delayed pass ushered May through the line, and the speed king laid waste the visiting defence.
And out-half Twelvetrees blasted a 45-metre monster penalty with the game’s final play, to seal the triumph.
Front-five weaknesses? Not on this evidence.
Proud captain Tom Savage believes Gloucester were able to assert the home authority so lacking just a week earlier.
“We were devastated with how last week went, so we really focused on getting heads on this time,” explained the loose forward.
“Every time we cross that white line onto that pitch, that is our home and that’s how we’ve got to treat it.
“We don’t get messed about here, we don’t take a backward step and I think that showed in our resilience, our fight and our graft.”
Perpignan came calling with their massive pack, and were put in their place, Alasdair Strokosch, Luke Narraway and all.
Perpignan scored in the first minute, just like Newcastle had in Gloucester’s league win in the North East a fortnight back.
Welsh full-back James Hook ghosted home to stun the hosts.
After wasting several half-chances in the first half, and Cowan’s score being ruled out, Gloucester did go over after the turnaround.
Kiwi Cowan claimed the try to kick-start the comeback, after counterpart Nicolas Durand was sin-binned.
Hook kept the scoreboard ticking over for Perpignan, including one fine 40-metre drop-goal.
And Matt Kvesic was sin-binned for killing the ball.
But Gloucester kept the faith.
May’s try was ruled out when a forward pass from Tindall to Cook was spotted in the build-up.
The wily speed merchant was unfazed though, and blasted home just minutes later.
Lifeimi Mafi was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Mills, and then Gloucester held their nerve.
A cracker: and a cracking result.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Cowan (44), May (74) Cons: Twelvetrees 2 (44, 74) Pens: Twelvetrees 5 (10, 17, 40, 65, 80)
PERPIGNAN: Tries: Hook (1) Cons: Hook (2) Pens: Hook 4 (21, 36, 49, 53), Drop-goals: Hook (62)
PERPIGNAN: Mafi (74)
GLOUCESTER: Kvesic (52)
PERPIGNAN: Durand (43)
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, J May, M Tindall, R Mills, J Simpson-Daniel, B Twelvetrees, J Cowan (D Robson, 63), Y Thomas, H Edmonds (D George, 55), S Knight (D Murphy, 22), E Stooke, J Hudson, T Savage (capt), M Kvesic (A Qera, 63), S Kalamafoni (G Evans, 63). Unused: T Heard, C Sharples, M Thomas.
PERPIGNAN: J Hook, W Mjekevu (D Duvenage, 50), T Benvenuti, L Mafi, S Guitone, C Lopez (D Marty, 56), N Durand (J Michel, 53), S Taofifenua (K Pulu, 55), G Guirado (capt) (R Terrain, 63), P Ion (G Jgenti, 41), D Leo, R Taofifenua (L Charteris, 63), J Purll, A Strokosch, L Narraway (J Perez, 67).