GLOUCESTER 14 CONNACHT 7
Gloucester’s Director of Rugby, David Humphreys, praised his side’s defence after they held off a strong second performance from Connacht to qualify for the semi-finals.
Two pieces of enterprise from James Hook created Gloucester’s tries scored by Charlie Sharples and Bill Meakes with Greig Laidlaw adding two conversions.
Connacht’s points came from a penalty try award converted by Jack Carty.
Humphreys said: “Ultimately our defence won us the game. After a five day turnaround, we were very good in the first half but we tightened up in the second half and made a few errors.
“It was very nervy at the end and it was a massive relief to win but that’s what knock out rugby is all about. It’s a reward for the amount of hard work we’ve put in this season.”
Humphreys singled out Hook and Matt Kvesic for their outstanding efforts on the night.
“When James plays well, we play well. We see them every week and both are quality international players and therefore we’d love to see them represent their country again.”
In spite of the defeat, Connacht’s head coach, Pat Lam, was delighted with his team’s performance.
“I’m proud of the guys as they are a very young group who are very resilient and keep coming back,” he said.
“Gloucester is always a tough place to come and they’ve got a lot of big game players. We didn’t exit well and gave away soft tries in the first half but at half-time the boys were determined to get back into it so we were much more ruthless after the restart.”
Gloucester now face Exeter or Newcastle in the semi-final at Kingsholm in a fortnight with Humphreys looking forward to the challenge.
“We are delighted to get another big game for Kingsholm. We are moving in the right direction and our results at Kingsholm have been improving since the New Year. We don’t mind who we play as we should always be concerned about our own game.”
Meanwhile, Former New Zealand rugby union star Mils Muliaina has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
The 34-year-old, who currently plays for Connacht in the Republic of Ireland, is suspect of involvement in an incident in Cardiff last month.
He was shown on television being taken away by police after the final whistle of his team’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final match at Gloucester last night.
Muliaina earned 100 caps as he wore the All Blacks number 15 jersey with distinction for nine years. He retired in 2011.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: “A man in his 30s was arrested at Kingsholm Stadium on Friday 3rd April on suspicion of sexual assault in relation to an incident in Cardiff in March.
“The man has been handed over to officers from South Wales Police who are investigating the incident.”
Details of the incident have not been confirmed. Muliaina was in the Welsh capital playing for Connacht against Cardiff Blues on March 6.