After a frustrating first half when little seemed to go right, Gloucester Rugby put a spring back in their step with a much improved second 40 minutes, clinching a morale-boosting 26-17 Heineken Champions Cup win over Connacht at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon.
The Cherry and Whites have been on the wrong end of some intangibles in recent weeks, competing hard but coming out on the wrong end of a few tight scorelines. And, at half time today, it looked as though it might be a similar tale against Connacht.
It was actually a dream start, Tom Marshall ghosting home for an early try, Cipriani converting. But Connacht hit back immediately through John Porch, Carty adding the extras to level the scores, and the fly-half then slotted a penalty for a 7-10 lead.
The rest of the half was a frustrating combination of missed scoring opportunities and refereeing decisions going the way of the visitors. There was a concerned air around Kingsholm at half-time.
But the game turned on one key moment, as Danny Cipriani intercepted in his own 22, set off downfield and found Louis Rees-Zammit in his shoulder for the key second try.
Gloucester Rugby didn’t look back. The shackles were off, the half backs ran the game intelligently and, symbolically, the sun broke through and chased away the persistent rain.
Connacht had Kyle Godwin sinbinned, and Gloucester Rugby took full advantage as Tom Marshall and Jake Polledri went over to secure the try scoring bonus point.
The visitors kept plugging away, but had to wait until the last play of the game to score a consolation try, Quinn Roux, powering his way over from close range but it was too little, too late for Connacht.