Connacht suffer four-try defeat to Gloucester

Connacht's Heineken Champions Cup challenge hangs by the thinnest of threads after a convincing four-try defeat to Gloucester at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon.

Connacht suffer four-try defeat to Gloucester

[team1]Gloucester[/team1][score1]26[/score1][team2]17[/team2][score2]17[/score2][/score]

Connacht's Heineken Champions Cup challenge hangs by the thinnest of threads after a convincing four-try defeat to Gloucester at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon.

The chances of them escaping Pool 5 now are, frankly, closer to none than slim.

This was a bad day all round. The result was catastrophic and the performance was terrible. Andy Friend's side was second-best for long stretches against a side that had lost their last five games straight, two of which came in Europe to Toulouse and Montpellier.

Connacht have now lost twice in this pool as well after the defeat in Toulouse last month.

It just never really happened here for the province and Gloucester could have scored more. They had two tries ruled out by the TMO and they set up shop in the visitors' half and 22 on a number of occasions. It made for a long day at the office.

Gloucester had named a strong side for this one despite their already perilous hopes of escaping the pool stages and they started strongly with full-back Tom Marshall darting clear wide on the right four minutes in before turning an exposed Niyi Adeolokun to go under the posts.

It was a scintillating tun of pace from Marshall but Connacht were caught far too easily. So were Gloucester just five minutes later when Jack Carty engineered a clever offload for Jordan Porch whose brilliant line of running and pace took him clear of the cover and in.

Seven apiece at that stage, Connacht took the lead just as the first quarter was ending through a Carty penalty and that was how it stayed for the rest of a period thanks to some stout Connacht defending and a modicum of luck.

Three times midway through the half Gloucester advanced into the 22 and three times they were turned over. It was all hands on deck stuff with the centre pairing of Peter Robb and Bundee Aki responsible for two of the interventions.

Gloucester should really have taken the lead half-a-dozen minutes before half-time when Danny Cipriani turned down three easy points and kicked to the corner.

Twice they mauled their way forwards from five metres out but the TMO ruled out a Franco Marais score for a knock-on.

Carty actually had the chance to extend the lead on the stroke of half-time but he shanked his penalty right and wide. It was a tricky kick from wide right and in conditions that by now were windy, wet and increasingly dark despite the lunchtime kick-off.

Carty had more cause for regret six minutes into the second period when his pass on the Gloucester 22 was intercepted by Cipriani. The one-time England out-half covered half the pitch before feeding the supporting Louis Rees-Zammit. The conversion made it 14-10.

And it got worse for the Connacht ten who sliced a kick straight in to touch shortly before his number was held up and Conor Fitzgerald came on in his stead. It changed little as the PRO14 side continued to come under pressure.

Two Cipriani grubbers almost played Tom Marshall and Ollie Thorley in but the toll all this was taking on Connacht told when wing Kyle Godwin was sent to the sin bin and Marshall went over for his second, and Gloucester's third, try soon after.

It was still only a nine-point game after Cipriani failed with the difficult conversion but it felt like much more with just a quarter to play and Connacht now gone over 40 minutes without a score. No surprise then that it got worse rather than better.

Jake Polledri secured the four-try bonus for the hosts by bursting untouched through the cover jut passed the hour. Things were now threatening to turn very ugly for Connacht but they rallied belatedly with Quinn Roux claiming a converted try on the final whistle.

A small mercy on a day when their hopes shipped such a big blow.

Gloucester:

Replacements: B Twelvetrees for Atkinson, (16-25, blood); J Hohneck for Rapava Ruskin (58); L Ludlam for Ackermann and A Craig for Mostert (both 66); C Braley for Simpson (67); B Twelvetrees for Harris (71); T Gleave for Marais and M Banahan for Cipriani (both 72); J Ford-Robinson for Balmain (75).

Connacht:

Replacements: R Copeland for Fainga'a (28); C Fitzgerald for Carty (52); U Dillan for Maksymiw and D Robertson-McCoy for Bealham (both 56); T Daly for Robb and P McCabe for Bukley (both 65); Johnny Murphy for McCartney and Stephen Kerins for Blade (both 66).

Referee: P Gauzère (France).

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