Gloucester 9 Harlequins 28: Good Evans! Nick boots Quins to Heineken Cup victory

By Ian Stafford


Life on and off the field does not appear to be improving for Mike Tindall after his Gloucester side crashed at home in the Heineken Cup to unbeaten Harlequins in the same week that his former international team-mate and boss quit as England manager.

Four days ago, Martin Johnson fell on his sword after a torrid World Cup campaign marred by serious misdemeanours off the field, notably Tindall’s drunken antics in a Queenstown bar that earned him a £25,000 fine and his removal from the EPS squad for the Six Nations which, effectively, ended his previously glittering Test career.

Matt finish: Harlequins centre Matt Hopper runs into a tackle from Mike Tindall

Matt finish: Harlequins centre Matt Hopper runs into a tackle from Mike Tindall

Last night Tindall saw his hopes for a fruitful campaign in Europe’s major tournament also go up in smoke after Gloucester suffered their second successive Heineken Cup defeat.

They will now need to win all four remaining pool games to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Considering they still face trips to Harlequins and Connacht, as well as a tricky home game against Toulouse, Gloucester are all but mathematically out. Last week they were unlucky to lose at Toulouse, but they were well beaten by in-form Quins.

Going over: Harlequins fullback Mike Brown runs in his try

Going over: Harlequins fullback Mike Brown runs in his try

Their three tries to nil win at supposedly fortress Kingsholm makes it 12 wins in all 12 games this season – eight in the Aviva Premiership, two in the LV Cup and now two in the Heineken Cup – and, although Quins face backto- back games against Toulouse, they made a giant stride towards the knockout stages and showed tremendous mettle in the process.

The score suggests it was a comfortable win for Quins. The reality was very different.

Gloucester enjoyed most of the territory and most of the possession, especially as the game wore on and, helped with the second half sin-binning of blindside Maurie Fa’asavalu, they fell well short in execution.

Twelve unbeaten: Brown (centre) is congratulated  after his try

Twelve unbeaten: Brown (centre) is congratulated after his try

Attack after attack broke down after a wayward pass bounced in front of the feet of the intended recipient or indeed behind him.

To compound matters, the cherry and whites gambled with quick taps or kicks to the corner instead of kicking their penalties and reducing the arrears.

‘We needed to win tonight but now it’s looking like it’s over for us,’ admitted Gloucester director of rugby, Bryan Redpath. Tindall’s England team-mate, Nick Easter, had much more reason to smile, though.

Going nowhere: Tindall is stopped by Jordan Turner-Hall

Going nowhere: Tindall is stopped by Jordan Turner-Hall

He returned from the World Cup admitting that the pressure was on him with Quins unbeaten in eight games, yet yesterday he killed the game with a 72nd-minute try that came after a 30-metre dash and a forearm down on the ball on the line which convinced the TMO to award the try. Later, he spoke of his dismay at Johnson’s resignation.

‘I know we didn’t perform in the world cup but Johnno led us to the Six Nations title and would have learnt so much from New Zealand,” said the No8. ‘It’s his choice but I’m very disappointed.’

In-form full back Mike Brown scored Quins’s opening try in the sixth minute which was converted by Nick Evans and, although Burns hit back with a penalty, Evans replied in kind before Burns reduced the deficit to four points.

Consolation: Gloucester flyhalf Freddie Burns kicks a penalty

Consolation: Gloucester flyhalf Freddie Burns kicks a penalty

Matt Hopper, making his first start, burrowed over a minute before the break before Evans and Burns added a further penalty each.

Just before the hour mark, Quins prop Joe Marler’s tackle on Henry Trinder stopped a certain Gloucester try and, moments later, Evans added another penalty.

With the cherry and whites playing catch-up rugby, Easter’s breakaway score settled the debate — and ended Gloucester’s European dreams.


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