Gloucester 26-17 Connacht: Cherry and Whites keep Heineken Champions Cup hopes alive
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool Five|
|Gloucester (7) 26|
|Tries: Marshall 2, Rees-Zammit, Polledri Con: Cipriani 3|
|Connacht (10) 17|
|Tries: Porch, Roux Cons: Carty, Fitzgerald Pen: Carty|
Gloucester kept their Champions Cup hopes alive as they powered to a bonus-point win against Connacht.
The scores were level after impressive solo scores from Gloucester's Tom Marshall and Connacht's John Porch.
A Jack Carty penalty put the visitors ahead, but Gloucester took control when Danny Cipriani's interception set up a try for Louis Rees-Zammit.
Connacht went down to 14 men and the hosts capitalised with scores from Marshall and Jake Polledri.
Quinn Roux scored a consolation try as the clock went red, but the defeat leaves Connacht bottom of Pool Five.
Gloucester are second in the pool, six points behind Toulouse who beat Montpellier 23-9 in the later game.
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Gloucester steam ahead in second half
Gloucester were without a win from their first two games but full-back Marshall got the hosts off to a perfect start with a moment of individual brilliance.
The New Zealander stepped inside centre Bundee Aki and sprinted across the line to dot down under the posts.
But Marshall's opposite number Porch soon made amends as he took a well-timed offload from fly-half Carty and darted through defenders to even the scores.
Gloucester then conceded a penalty for offside and Carty took the opportunity to put Connacht ahead for the first time.
But it was Gloucester number 10 Cipriani who stole the limelight after the break as he intercepted Carty's pass and sent Rees-Zammit over.
With Kyle Godwin sent off for repeated offside, Gloucester had a scrum in front of the posts and Marshall found plenty of room to go over for his second try.
And flanker Polledri sealed what could prove to be a crucial bonus point, finding another gap in Connacht's depleted defence to sprint over the tryline.
Roux scrambled over from short range just before full-time, but the score was not enough to earn the Irish side a losing bonus point.
Toulouse and Montpellier, the other two sides in Pool Five, play each other later on Sunday before Connacht host Gloucester in Galway on Saturday 14 December.
'We were far from perfect' - what they said
Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: "We were far from perfect but we hope that this win can kick-start our season.
"Connacht are a massive team at home. They beat Montpellier there and we will have to reset to face a huge challenge"
Connacht head coach Andy Friend said: "We were 10-7 up at half-time and looking good after playing some controlled rugby.
"The message was to do exactly the same in the second half, but we didn't do anything like that. I'm disappointed we didn't get a bonus point and we will need a really clinical performance at home next week."
Gloucester: Marshall; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Atkinson, Thorley; Cipriani, Simpson; Rapava-Ruskin, Marais, Balmain; Grobler, Mostert; Ackermann, Polledri, Morgan
Replacements: Gleave, Hohneck, Ford-Robinson, Craig, Ludlow, Braley, Twelvetrees, Banahan
Connacht: Porch; Adeolokun, Aki, Robb, Godwin; Carty, Blade; Buckley, McCartney, Bealham, Maksymiw, Roux, Masterson, Fainga'a, Butler
Replacements: Murphy, Burke, McCoy, Dillane, Copeland, Kerins, Fitzgerald, Daly