Connacht provided a tough preseason opponent at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon remaining in the game until the last few minutes before Gloucester clinched a 29-19 win.
To be fair, Gloucester did make life slightly difficult for themselves. Connacht scored three tries and three could be traced back to Gloucester errors.
However, Gloucester overcame these setbacks, notably a 12-0 deficit at one point, and pieced together enough good rugby to emerge deserved winners.
It's always difficult to draw too many conclusions from this sort of game. Gloucester turned down several kicks at goal in a bid to score tries and this gave Connacht license to give away penalties.
Gloucester also probably played considerably more with ball in hand than they perhaps will in the Guinness Premiership opener again Bath. But there were enough promising signs today to leave the Kingsholm faithful happy that things are progressing well under Bryan Redpath.
Respendent in their new Cherry and White hoops Gloucester showed ambition from the off, moving ball left and left with confidence and in an attempt to stretch the Connacht defence.
Carlos Spencer and Tom Voyce both made threatening half breaks but couldn't find the key final pass and the visitors held out.
However, Connacht stunned the home crowd on 6 minutes as centre Niva Ta'auso picked off a Nicky Robinson pass in his own 22 with the visitors' defence looking streched. Ta'auso didn't have the legs as Mike Tindall tracked him down but offloaded for wing Fionn Carr to score and fly half Ian Keatley to convert.
Gloucester hit back and there were some nice touches from Carlos Spencer as he dipped into his box of tricks in an attempt to prise an opening before a more traditional catch and drive looked set for success until indiscipline gave Connacht a vital penalty and a chance to clear.
There were a few murmurs of frustration around Kingsholm as the first quarter drew to a close. Connacht were living on the limits of the offside line and unforced errors prevented Gloucester gaining real momentum.
Lesley Vainikolo almost burst through on 25 minutes but a knock on followed once the ball was recycled and a subsequent James Simpson-Daniel break called back for crossing.
Connacht were visibly growing in confidence and struck from deep as the half hour approached with Gloucester on the front foot. However, the ball was left unprotected at a ruck and centre Keith Matthews stepped in to scoop up the ball and sprint home from his own 22.
Keatley's conversion his the upright and stayed out but Connacht had an unlikely 12-0 lead and the sight of Lesley Vainikolo limping off did little to lift the mood.
However, Nicky Robinson gave the crowd something to cheer as he caught the Connacht defence napping with a quick tapped penalty and scampered over to open the Gloucester account duly converting his own try for a 7-12 scoreline after 36 minutes.
Visibly lifted, Gloucester looked to finish the half on a high. Akapusi Qera smashed his way close to the line and James Simpson-Daniel almost ghosted his way through a gap but his attempted offload fell forward.
Gloucester then scrummaged in the shadow of the Connacht posts, spurning three points from a certain penalty, but Robinson's cross kick for Charlie Sharples was a fraction too high to end the half.
Connacht went in with the lead and had showed a certain amount of ambition but Bryan Redpath's side had dominated territory and possession and would have been frustrated at the turnovers which had gifted points to the visitors.
The nature of Bryan Redpath's half time team talk would remain a mystery but Gloucester started the second half like a scalded cat.
Rory Lawson made one scything break from a set scrum before Nick Wood took a midfield line worthy of a centre to spring home near the posts. Robinson's conversion gave Gloucester a 14-12 lead.
There had been no lack of commitment from Gloucester in the first period but there was a visible extra edge to their play now after the interval and Connacht began to look stretched for the first time.
Qera was almost put in by some neat sleight of hand from Robinson, Sharples threatened and Carlos Spencer almost touched down but the thin green line just held firm.
The visitors then incurred the displeasure of the Kingsholm crowd by opting to go for the posts with a long penalty on 58 minutes but Keatley's kick drifted right of the posts.
Perhaps stung by the prospect of losing their lead, Gloucester went back to basics and a catch and drive so nearly forced its way over and then Mike Tindall was held up over the line but still Connacht refused to buckle.
But the seemingly inevitable duly happened and, from a 5m scrum, James Simpson-Daniel showed some nifty footwork to score the third Gloucester try and Robinson converted from wide out for 21-12.
Credit to Connacht, however, who weren't done just yet. A series of Gloucester infringments he back row gave them territory and the back row then forced an error from Dave Lewis leading to a simple score for Mike McCornish. Troy Nathan converted to make the game 21-19 going into the final 10 minutes.
The game was perhaps closer than it should have been but replacement hooker Adrian Flavin didn't help his team's cause when he was yellow carded for leading with his shoulder in the tackle and Robinson slotted an easy penalty for 24-19.
Still the game wasn't done as referee Martin Fox sent a bemused Mike Tindall to the sinbin for tackling the man without the ball and still Connacht had a sniff.
It was all hands in the pumps in defence for Gloucester as they had to defend a 5m lineout but the pack did their bit and forced a penalty for holding on in the tackle.
Jonny May then settled the nerves as Connacht failed to deal with a Lewis up and under and the replacement centre scooped up the loose ball to score. Robinson was just off target with the conversion but the result was now settled at 29-19.
Next up are the Ospreys who visit Kingsholm on Saturday August 29th, kick off 3pm.
Akapusi Qera takes the fight to Connacht
Martin Bennett, Gloucester Rugby
I was happy it was a proper contest because we've struggled in those games in the past
On the whole I was fairly happy although we could have been better with our control around the breakdown
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Connacht's 30-20 win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening means that they are the third best placed runners up and will come to Kingsholm for the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup in early April.
Gloucester Rugby today confirmed that supporters who have renewed their Club Membership for next season by March 27th 2015 will receive a free ticket for this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final at Kingsholm in April.
It was a bit of an arm wrestle at times, but two tries in each half did the trick for Gloucester as they defeated CA Brive by 31 points to 20 at the Stade Amedee-Domench on Thursday evening to secure top seeding for the quarter-finals.
As the Cherry and Whites aim to make it six from six in the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Brive (19:45 ko) this evening, Dan Robson is fully focused on continuing the fine momentum of recent weeks.