Why can’t the Cherry and Whites play more like this every week?
After the shambles against Saracens when Gloucester struggled for possession and territory, this time round they were much more competitive and are quite entitled to feel a little bit aggrieved as the final score flattered their Irish visitors.
Munster took their chances with a converted try and penalty in each half whereas the hosts created a stunning try for Charlie Sharples but Billy Twelvetrees missed two penalty kicks .
Gloucester were made to suffer at the hands of referee Leighton Hodges who virtually ignored most of the many head high tackles from the Munster men, indeed some were downright dangerous and went unpunished but there is little doubt that in the Premiership they would have warranted yellow cards.
Far from the hiding predicted by many, spirited Gloucester were in touch throughout and with a fairer distribution of key decisions could well have sprung a surprise if they had taken their chances over a Munster side which although not of the class of former years, is still good enough to reach the last eight of the Heineken Cup again. Their desire and commitment to triumph was in marked contrast to a Gloucester side that after suffering another Kingsholm defeat is still struggling to build confidence and self-belief again committing too many unforced errors.
All in all it was a good match played in a great atmosphere as Gloucester made a decent start to set up camp in the Irish province territory but it was Munster who got the first points on the board as Ian Keatley slotted his first penalty whereas Billy Twelvetrees missed out with two kicks at goal.
Munster got their first try when Keatley expertly kicked through the defensive cover for wing Keith Earls to collect and score unopposed which Keatley converted. 10-0.
However with the last play of the half Gloucester hit back with a splendid try of their own. Winger Shane Monahan made the initial break for Dan Robson to put Charlie Sharples free in open space and he skinned the opposition with ease for Freddie Burns to covert to put the hosts right back in contention. 10-7.
After the interval it was all Gloucester as they pinned their opponents deep in their own territory but were unable to cross the line or score. Back row men Sione Kalanafoni and Ben Morgan entered the fray but could not make their territorial advantage count. What a shame Big Ben never seems completely fit.
After soaking up all that pressure it was the visitors who struck the next blow when a series of scrums at the other end enabled Munster to secure the vital touch-down when captain Peter O’Mahony drove over from close range as the try was awarded courtesy of the TMO.
Keatley again converted and added a second penalty to see the Irish province home and although Gloucester had performed much better than in recent matches it was another Kingsholm defeat and exit from this Heineken Cup.
There is no doubt about it, Munster are a good team; not a great team, but when the game is refereed as badly as was seen at Kingsholm tonight, they are unbeatable. I rarely criticise referees as they may not see everything but what they do see they rarely get it wrong. Tonight was the exception. Dangerous tackles, high tackles and offside was rarely punished. He ignored virtually every scrum directive in favour of Munster and in tight games it makes all the difference.
Yes, Gloucester missed two eminently kickable penalties in the first half and did not have the same finishing prowess of the Irishmen but they played with passion, pace and intensity. It is somewhat ironic that they gave tonight in what was largely a dead rubber what they have so lacked in the very important league games thus far this season.
Regardless of the issue with the referee, Munster took their chances and therefore were the winners. Every Gloucester player was outstanding but special mention must go to Elliot Stooke and Billy Twelvetrees. They gave every ounce of energy and put their bodies on the line for the entire game.
Charlie Sharples, Jonny May, Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Shane Monahan;
Freddie Burns, Dan Robson;
Yann Thomas, Darren Dawidiuk, Sila Puafisi;
Elliott Stooke, James Hudson;
Matt Cox, Matt Kvesic, Gareth Evans
Huia Edmonds, Dan Murphy, Shaun Knight, Tom Hicks, Sione Kalamafoni,Ben Morgan
Tavis Knoyle, Rob Cook, Ben Morgan
Half-Time - 7-10
Referee - Leighton Hodges. Wales
Attendance - 16,500
Gloucester Matches - Munster Match Reports
----------2002 - 12 October - GLOUCESTER 35 MUNSTER 16
----------2003 - 18 January - Munster 33 Gloucester 6
----------2004 - 10 January - GLOUCESTER 22 MUNSTER 11
----------2004 - 17 January - Munster 35 Gloucester 14
----------2008 - 05 April .....- GLOUCESTER 3 MUNSTER 16
Gloucester Matches - Reports. - Seasons 2001- 2013
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