Gloucester beat Connacht and book Semi-final

English Premiership Rugby club Gloucester booked a place in the European Challenge Cup semi-final by beating Irish side Connacht 14-7 at Kingsholm.

The result means that Gloucester who won the title in 2006 will face either one of two English clubs Exeter Chiefs or Newcastle Falcons.

First-half tries from Charlie Sharples and Bill Meakes had given the home side a commanding 14-0 half-time lead, but a penalty try 15 minutes from time ensured a tense finish at a packed Kingsholm.

Connacht managed to get themselves deep into the Gloucester half late-on, but couldn’t find that all-important second try to set up extra-time.

After a slow start to the game Gloucester’s England wing Sharples scored the game’s opening try following excellent work from Wales international James Hook, who broke clear from inside his own half and went past two Connacht tacklers.

Hook was then heavily involved in Gloucester’s second try just after half an hour when he chipped the ball through the Connacht back-line and it popped up into the arms of the grateful home centre Bill Meakes, who dived over for the second home try which Greig Laidlaw converted
.
Former All Blacks full-back Mils Muliaina was forced off the field for Connacht just before half-time as they struggled to threaten the home side’s try-line in the opening 40 minutes.

Laidlaw then had an excellent chance to put Gloucester further in front just after the hour mark, but the Scotland skipper pulled his penalty wide of the left-hand post.

That set up a nervous final quarter of an hour and Connacht were given a boost when they were awarded a penalty try for Gloucester dragging down a driving line-out on their own line.

But it proved to be too little, too late for the visitors who were left with nothing to show for a much-improved display after the break.

Final Score Gloucester 14 (14) Connacht 7 (0)

Scorers

Gloucester
Tries – Sharples, Meakes
Pen –
Con – Laidlaw (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Connacht
Tries – Penalty
Pen –
Con – Carty
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee:
Mathieu Raynal (France),
Assistant ref: Cedric Marchat (France),
Assistant ref: Thomas Charabas (France),
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales),
Citing Commissioner: John Montgomery (Scotland)

Teams

Gloucester Rugby: Stevie McColl; Charlie Sharples, Bill Meakes, Billy Twelvetrees (c), Jonny May; James Hook, Greig Laidlaw; Dan Murphy, Richard Hibbard, John Afoa, Tom Savage, Tom Palmer, Sione Kalafamoni, Matt Kvesic, Gareth Evans

Replacements: Darren Dawiduik, Nick Wood, Sila Puafisi, James Hudson, Ross Moriarty, Dan Robson, Billy Burns, Henry Purdy

Connacht Rugby: Mils Muliaina; Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux, Ally Muldowney, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, John Muldoon (c)

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, JP Cooney, Finlay Bealham, Mick Kearney, James Connolly, Ian Porter, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leade

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