A magnificent second half comeback from Gloucester Rugby wasn’t quite enough in Montpellier on Sunday afternoon, the home team hanging on for a 30-27 Heineken Champions Cup win despite the Cherry and Whites pushing them all the way to the final whistle.
The Cherry and Whites looked out of it at half-time. However, Gloucester Rugby, aided somewhat by a red card for the home team’s Jacques Du Plessis, battled back bravely and were pushing for the go ahead score when time ran out on them.
The opening quarter was actually fairly even. Montpellier featured some massive players in their side, but the Cherry and Whites fronted up bravely and looked to play with ball in hand whenever they were in possession.
Benoit Paillaugue opened the scoring with a penalty before, almost out of nothing, Jan Serfontein latched on to a kick ahead for the game’s first try. The centre may have been in front of the kick, but the score stood and Paillaugue converted for 10-0.
Billy Twelvetrees kicked a penalty to get the Cherry and Whites off and running, but some over-ambition in their own 22 saw the ball turned over and Montpellier took full advantage as Caleb Timu went over from close range.
Gloucester Rugby hit back with a great try, Lloyd Evans darting through before finding Callum Braley with an inside pass for the scrum-half to slide. However, a key phase of play just before half-time, following another turnover, saw the home team turn the screw up front and Nemani Nadolo powered his way over.
The Cherry and Whites hit back in the second half, Matt Banahan going over from close range. Du Plessis was sent off for elbowing Gerbrandt Grobler and two penalties from Paillaugue and one from Twelvetrees made it 30-20.
Another beauty of a try then got Gloucester Rugby back into it. Rees-Zammit went down the right and kicked ahead, Thorley gathered only to be brought down just short but Joe Simpson was on hand to pick up and dive over.
Lloyd Evans held his nerve to convert to narrow the gap to 30-27 but, despite a couple of half-chances, time ran out on the Cherry and Whites as the home time held on for a nervy victory with the home fans nervously biting their nails.