M.Garvey, T.Fanolua, R.Todd, T.Beim (J.Simpson-Daniel)
L.Mercier, A.Gomarsall
T.Woodman, O.Azam (C.Fortey), P.Vickery
A.Eustace (E.Pearce),M.Cornwell
J.Boer, J.Forrester, P.Buxton

Referee - J.Dume - France


Munster blown away by Gloucester power play

Kingsholm                             HEINEKEN Cup                             Saturday 12 October 2002
Gloucester 35 Munster 16

BEFORE the match few Gloucester fans can have anticipated a 19 point victory over last season’s Heineken Cup beaten finalists. There is no doubt that the Cherry and Whites were full value for their win - indeed it could have and should have been a far larger margin. The injury time Munster try distorted the points difference and flattered the Irish but they were still second best by some distance.
    The home side had the vast majority of possession and territory throughout and but for moments of poorly timed passes and a lack of patience in key build up movements Gloucester would surely have scored more tries and hit the half century mark. Gloucester’s early season form is irresistible at times. Let us hope that it continues - there are some very difficult away trips looming, Munster included but on current form Zurich Premiership success is deserved.
    Gloucester for once were soon into their swing with the ball being moved in all directions at a fast and furious pace but the early breakthrough proved elusive despite passes being thrown about with almost gay abandon.
    Simple, cool, calculated play was in short supply as Gloucester made the running but were unable to finish it off but Mercier landed a penalty after 20 minutes. He added another before Ronan O’Gara slotted his first kick. Ludo then added another penalty before at last the Kingsholm crowd had something to cheer.
    A clever kick down the touchline from Ludo was latched on to by Marcel Garvey who left the Munster cover dead for pace as if they were standing still, to kick on and secure the vital first try. Ludo converted with a kick that went in off the post. O’Gara kicked two more penalties and Ludo completed his first half hat trick of penalties to send the teams in at the interval with the score at 16-9.
    Whereas the Irishmen must have thought they were in with a chance, only seven points down with the advantage of the gusting wind in the second half, Gloucester must have rued the missed chances and their failure to breach the Munster defence seemed poor reward for a lot of pressure but few points on the board.

    Any doubts that Gloucester’s lead would not be enough were not helped when further scoring opportunities went begging. Munster were unable to get out of their half but Gloucester were unable to score. James Forrester made a trademark storming break before Gomarsall put Henry Paul clean through but was strangely brought back by the French referee Mr Dume for a questionable knock on that no else saw. Tom Beim got to the line but once again held on to the ball too long leaving a frustrated unmarked Adam Eustace outside him. How much longer before Sinbad gets his chance with a start on the wing?
    Territorially Gloucester were well on top but the tries still proved elusive. Ludo missed out with a snap drop goal attempt when sharp passing along the line might have been a better option. Munster’s defence was becoming more desperate to stop Gloucester’s driving forwards before a lineout drive led to a try from the ever industrious Jake Boer. The conversion put the home side firmly in control at 25-9.
    Gloucester got another try shortly afterwards as live-wire Andy Gomarsall made the incisive break before Ludo was on hand to dummy his way over to convert and put Gloucester further in front at 30-9.
    Garvey was just short after another elusive run at pace and there were signs that the Irish were beginning to crack. Munster then lost Frankie Sheehan to the sin bin and just to show how it should be done from line out possession Jake Boer was on hand to drive over and secure his second try and put Gloucester almost out of sight.
    The final act of the match was a travesty, as for once Munster got out of their own half and scrum half Peter Stringer scrambled over for an injury time consolation try.
    Gloucester were home and dry for an encouraging first step along the lengthy Heineken Cup way. The win was as ever built on a solid effort by the forwards.
    Behind the scrum the Cherry and Whites need a few more creative options but Gomarsall and Mercier showed just what a difference it makes to have a good supply of quality ball. Irish internationals O’Gara and Stringer did not have that luxury but the day was won by traditional Gloucester power play from a dominant pack with runners coming from deep which proved more effective than shovelling the ball sideways across the pitch.
    Gloucester earned their victory with a strong team performance. Tries might have been in short supply given the amount of possession but there was no shortage of commitment which should augur well for the difficult trip to Wasps and the visit of Northampton.