Victory over Perpignan fires up Gloucester

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Nigel Davies believes his Gloucester team will relish a tilt at European heavyweights Munster this weekend after they launched their Heineken Cup campaign in thrilling fashion at Kingsholm.

Wing Jonny May’s 75th-minute try accounted for Pool Six rivals Perpignan, while Jimmy Cowan also touched down and his half-back partner Billy Twelvetrees kicked 17 points for a 27-22 victory.

After losing three of their first five Aviva Premiership games this season, Gloucester knew defeat at the first hurdle in Europe could not be contemplated. And they delivered despite losing playmaker Freddie Burns just six hours before kick-off after he went down with a stomach bug.

“We’ve done the first thing and secured a first home win, which was absolutely fundamental to what we needed to do if we want to progress in this tournament, and now we can have a shot at Munster,” rugby director Davies said.

“We knew that we were much better than how we performed last week (against Exeter), and we just needed to step it up.

“The atmosphere in the group has been quite positive and really keen to put in a big performance, and they did that to a man.

“These type of performances are in this group - it is just a matter of making sure we are more consistent.

“The difference between when we play well and when we play poorly is just too much at the moment, and that is what we have to address.”

While Gloucester gained a priceless win, twice Heineken Cup winners Munster suffered a surprise 29-23 defeat against Edinburgh, and Davies added: “I watched some of the Edinburgh-Munster game – it has certainly opened the pool up.

“We know what to expect when we go to Munster next weekend. We played a pre-season game there and got a feel for the place. I would imagine the pressure is pretty much on Munster to get a result.”

Gloucester’s triumph was rough justice on Perpignan’s Wales international full-back James Hook.

The 28-year-old scored all his team’s points through a try, conversion, drop-goal and four penalties, but Perpignan were left still seeking a first Heineken victory on English soil.

Hook, despite winning 70 caps, cannot currently nail down a place in the Wales starting XV, although a Kingsholm masterclass must have helped his cause heading into next month’s autumn Tests.

“James is a fantastic player, real quality,” Davies said.

“He is a danger every time he is on the ball. He makes good decisions and you can’t take your eyes off for him.

“There is a particular philosophy the Wales team go with, which is based around power and not making too many errors.

“Hooky probably does not quite fit that profile, but for me he is a real class act. I would want him in my team every time.”

Perpignan, meanwhile, finished the game with 14 men after their former Munster centre Lifeimi Mafi was rightly sent off by Welsh referee Leighton Hodges for a tip-tackle on his opposite number Ryan Mills in the 76th minute.

Mills escaped injury, but Tonga international Mafi can expect to receive a lengthy ban.