European Challenge Cup: Gloucester hang on to reach last four

Billy Twelvetrees
Billy Twelvetrees

Gloucester survived a frantic finish to end Connacht's unbeaten run in the European Challenge Cup with a 33-28 quarter-final win at the Sportsground.

Replacement Billy Twelvetrees' 77th-minute penalty proved to be the final score of an eight-try thriller, as last year's runners-up set up a home semi-final against Aviva Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons next month.

Tries from James Hanson, Tom Marshall and man-of-the-match Henry Trinder had the Cherry and Whites 17-10 up at half-time, with returning Grand Slam winners Kieran Marmion and Bundee Aki touching down for Connacht.

The hosts twice got back within two points thanks to second-half tries from Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy, but John Afoa's 55th-minute score on his 100th club appearance - coupled with the place-kicking of Owen Williams (10 points) and Twelvetrees - had Gloucester out of reach.

Connacht fell behind in the third minute when Quinn Roux stole Hanson's lineout throw but the tap-down bounced nicely for the Gloucester hooker, who gathered and cut inside Healy for a 5-0 lead.

In response, the Irish province forced a scrum penalty and threatened from a maul. Jack Carty's inviting offload then sent his half-back partner Marmion nipping over to the right of the posts, with Carty unable to convert in a tricky wind.

Gloucester's fifth penalty concession in 15 minutes saw number eight Ben Morgan sin-binned for a high tackle, and a terrific team move soon led to Connacht's second try.

Hooker Tom McCartney was involved twice, firstly via Denis Buckley's tip-on pass and then popping up to collect Carty's offload and send Aki powering over to make it 10-5.

The wind foiled Carty's conversion attempt and it was a similar case for fly-half Williams' kick after Gloucester had released winger Marshall for the left corner. Welshman Williams' long pass supplied a superb assist.

The Cherry and Whites got on top in a crucial period before the break. Ed Slater had a try ruled out for a forward pass, but centre Trinder's quick feet took him around Roux and over for the lead try.

Williams finally bisected the posts with a cracking conversion, and it was the Wales international's 41-metre penalty which opened the second half's scoring.

However, Connacht winger Adeolokun then burst into life, beating Marshall and Williams to Marmion's grubber kick over the try-line. A subsequent Carty penalty had the gap down to 20-18 but Gloucester had an answer.

They blew a couple of opportunities before Williams' pull-back pass had Mark Atkinson dashing into space and he gave the supporting Afoa a clear run to the line. Williams converted and tapped the nail into Connacht's coffin further with a 63rd-minute penalty.

The westerners' never-say-die attitude brought them back into contention, replacement Craig Ronaldson landing a penalty after Gloucester flanker Lewis Ludlow was binned for a shoulder charge on Marmion. Aki then threaded a kick through for Healy to collect and step inside Jason Woodward for a 70th-minute converted try.

With their lead cut to 30-28, 14-man Gloucester showed impressive composure and duly dominated possession, Twelvetrees knocking over a vital three-pointer after Connacht openside Jarrad Butler saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

Related rugby union links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Buzz (left) on his way to victory at Newbury1

Monday's racing preview

Keith Hamer says Buzz can scoop a big pot for a Monday in the £75,000 32Red Middle Distance Series Final Handicap at Kempton on Monday.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League
2

Monday's Nations League preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with the Netherlands aiming to join the final four. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring for England against Croatia at Wembley3

England favourites for Nations League

England’s comeback victory over Croatia has seen them installed as the 9/4 favourites to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League next summer.

Check out the Daryl Jacob column4

Daryl Jacob: Sceau good

Sceau Royal made a winning return to action at Cheltenham to leave our columnist eagerly-anticipating a Sandown showdown with Altior next.

Check out today's Paper Talk5

Paper Talk: Man Utd eye Pickford

Manchester United could target £60m Jordan Pickford as a replacement for David de Gea, according to The Sun.

Most Read

Buzz (left) on his way to victory at Newbury1

Monday's racing preview

Keith Hamer says Buzz can scoop a big pot for a Monday in the £75,000 32Red Middle Distance Series Final Handicap at Kempton on Monday.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League
2

Monday's Nations League preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with the Netherlands aiming to join the final four. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring for England against Croatia at Wembley3

England favourites for Nations League

England’s comeback victory over Croatia has seen them installed as the 9/4 favourites to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League next summer.

Check out the Daryl Jacob column4

Daryl Jacob: Sceau good

Sceau Royal made a winning return to action at Cheltenham to leave our columnist eagerly-anticipating a Sandown showdown with Altior next.

Check out today's Paper Talk5

Paper Talk: Man Utd eye Pickford

Manchester United could target £60m Jordan Pickford as a replacement for David de Gea, according to The Sun.

Racing Tips

Nap Of The Day

Daily Nap: Get on Grange

Ben Linfoot heads to Kempton's evening card on Monday for the Sporting Life Daily Nap and he's putting his faith in a course winner.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action

Tuesday's racing preview

Bobby K is Anita Chambers' best bet at Lingfield and she has a tip for every race in the UK.

Buzz (left) on his way to victory at Newbury

Monday's racing preview

Keith Hamer says Buzz can scoop a big pot for a Monday in the £75,000 32Red Middle Distance Series Final Handicap at Kempton on Monday.

Next Race Off

17:48 Mahoning Valley
1
(1)
Lunar Heat
J: Tyler Gaffalione
5
(5)
Direct Deceit
J: John McKee
3
(3)
Bosa Flow
J: Luis Quinones

Football Tips

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League

Monday's Nations League preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with the Netherlands aiming to join the final four. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.

Royal Line (right) pulls clear to win the November Handicap

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2018.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.