Toulouse were simply left gasping in the final quarter of a game that pulsated from start to finish. Until Gloucester's final surge it really could have gone either way.
Both teams deserve credit for the way they approached the game and Gloucester will take massive confidence from the way they not just matched one of the aristocrats of European rugby, but took them apart.
Every single player did his bit but it was the lightning fast Gloucester backs who created havoc with ball in hand in the final half hour with some illustrious opponents simply grasping at thin air.
The challenge now, of course, is for Gloucester to produce this sort of performance more frequently. When they do, they're nearly untouchable.
Toulouse weren't poor, far from it. In fact, at times they were sublime. But they did have some defensive shortcomings, especially under the high ball, and that cost them on the night.
In a sizzling atmosphere at Kingsholm, Gloucester were looking for a strong start but were reduced to 14 men just a minute into the game when Nick Wood was yellow carded for reckless use of the boot on the advice of the touch judge.
However, the 14 men delivered the best possible response as Matanavou fumbled a high ball and was then pinned back in his own in goal area. He bizarrely tried to clear with three men right on top of him, was charged down and Jonny May fell on the loose ball to score. Burns converted for 7-0.
The lead was short lived though as Matanavou made good ground down the right before Thierry Dusatoir caught Gloucester napping around the fringes by picking up at a ruck and outpacing Rory Lawson to score from 30 metres. Beauxis levelled the scores with the conversion.
Gloucester were far from dismayed and had a chance to regain the lead as Poitrenaud was flattened by Tindall and Sharples as he took a high ball. Toulouse conceded the penalty but Burns' effort hit the post and stayed out.
The miss was put into context when Medard's cultured left boot moved Toulouse downfield where Gloucester were penalised and Beauxis nudged the visitors in front.
Another Medard kick then pinned Gloucester back before the Toulouse backs clicked into ominously into gear, carving out a chance which was ruthlessly exploited by Matanavou on the right flank. Beauxis converted from the touchline to open up a 17-7 lead after 18 minutes.
After a bright start, Toulouse had shown their class with ball in hand and Gloucester needed to take the sting out of the visitors' attack.
They did succeed to an extent as they forced Toulouse to turn via a number of probing kicks from Burns but they were getting little out of the visitors defence.
Finally, Gloucester made a telling break as Sharples broke clear down the right. Strokosch took the ball on and, when Gloucester recycled, a huge overlap on the left saw Fuimaono-Sapolu put Qera in for the try. Burns added an excellent conversion to get Gloucester back to 14-17 on the half hour.
Half time approached but Gloucester were still ambitious and not settling for trailing narrowly at the interval. Sharples and Qera almost combined for the try of the season only for the Fijian to knock on just a few metres from the line.
Toulouse almost had the final word as the Gloucester pack were penalised for 'truck and trailer' but Beauxis' penalty hit the left upright and bounced clear.
A cracking half of rugby came to an end and Gloucester could take heart from having gone toe to toe with their illustrious guests.
Toulouse had showed real class at times but, on the other hand, Gloucester had then looking rattled at times.
You got the impression that there was plenty more to come in the second half!
Gloucester began brightly enough, throwing the ball around with almost Sevens like abandon but Beauxis had the first chance of points but his penalty, from fully 5 metres inside his own half, drifted wide left.
Gloucester then scored a beauty as Toulouse froze with referee Clancy playing an advantage. Tindall's grubber bounced up superbly for May and his inside pass put Sharples in for a stunning score. Burns converted and Gloucester had a 21-17 lead.
This then became 24-17 as Burns stroked home a 59th minute penalty after Matanavou, having an eventful night, dropped a high ball and Dusatoir played it from an offside position but his 63rd minute effort, into the wind, fell well short.
And Gloucester were promptly punished as Beauxis' lightning break opened up the defence. Tindall made a superb cover tackle but quick ball put Matanavou over for his second and Beauxis levelled the scores with the conversion.
It could still have gone either way but a massive forward effort at a set scrum earned a penalty which Burns confidently slotted before Simpson-Daniel showed incredible balance and handling to skin Matanavou on the outside before sending May sprinting joyfully into the corner to end the scoring.
Kingsholm erupted as the Gloucester faithful realised that they'd just witnessed something very special indeed, something that will be spoken about for a long time.
|Gloucester Rugby Score Card|
|Toulouse Score Card|