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 Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Gloucester suffer first defeat
Pascal Giordani holds off Thinus Delport to score for Perpignan
Giordani holds off Delport to score for Perpignan
Perpignan 31-23 Gloucester



Gloucester face a nerve-jangling showdown in Munster to save their Heineken Cup dreams after suffering their first European defeat of the season in Perpignan.

Their trip to Limerick for their last pool game will almost certainly decide their fate in this season's Heineken Cup after Perpignan's victory left the group wide open.

Gloucester scored late tries through Jake Boer and Ludovic Mercier, with the Frenchman also kicking 13 points, but Perpignan were much the better side and the margin of victory did not reflect their superiority.

Australian fly-half Manny Edmonds scored a try and kicked 16 points for the hosts, while Nicolas Mas and Pascal Giordani collected the other scores.

Gloucester scrum-half Andy Gomarsall is scragged by Gregory Le Corvec
Gomarsall cannot escape Perpignan's clutches

In the raw and raucous Stade Aime Giral, the home side possessed far too much power and precision in the forwards for Gloucester and the French had more structure and organisation in the backs.

Edmonds was their inspiration as Perpignan opened a 23-6 lead by the break.

He kicked a fifth-minute penalty before launching himself between Robert Todd and Boer to score their first try after 14 minutes.

He converted to hand his side a 10-0 advantage, while all Gloucester could muster in the first period were two long-distance penalties converted by Mercier.

This puts the pressure on Munster and Gloucester but we were disappointed to give away points late at the end

Perpignan star
Manny Edmonds

With Phil Murphy and Lionel Mallier galvanising the fierce Perpignan forwards Gloucester could not break out of their half.

Edmonds kicked two more penalties to extend their lead before Mas burrowed over from close range to cement Perpignan's well-deserved advantage.

Mercier did his best to reduce the deficit with a 41st-minute penalty but Gloucester's hopes of an unlikely victory were rapidly receding.

There was no denying Perpignan's control and power and with half-an-hour to go Edmonds' chip was not covered by Thinus Delport and centre Giordani slid in to score a crucial third try.

Match details
Perpignan 31
Tries: Edmonds, Mas, Giordani
Pens: Edmonds (4)
Cons: Edmonds (2)
Gloucester 23
Tries: Boer, Mercier
Pens: Mercier (3)
Cons: Mercier (2)

Edmonds missed the conversion but added a penalty to leave Perpignan 31-9 ahead with a little over 15 minutes remaining.

Gloucester then mounted something of a recovery and with five minutes remaining Boer was driven over from close range for their first try. Mercier added the conversion.

With time ebbing away the Cherry and Whites then struck a potentially crucial blow when Mercier took Tom Beim's pass to touch down behind the posts.

Mercier landed the conversion and it brought Gloucester to within eight points, but Perpignan were deserved winners.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Alastair Hignell
"Gloucester have themselves to blame"
 Gloucester coach Dean Ryan
"We knew they had a powerful scrum"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

EUROPEAN STATISTICS
Links to more European stories are at the foot of the page.


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