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European round-up: Hook inspires Gloucester Rugby into semi-finals

It was a strong defensive effort that made all the difference according to director of rugby David Humphreys after Gloucester Rugby saw off Connacht in their European Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Fly-half James Hook was in scintillating form as he created scores for Charlie Sharples and Billy Meakes in the first half at Kingsholm on Friday night.

The Irish province refused to roll over in the second half however, and a penalty try prompted a nervous finish as the Cherry & Whites had to dig in defensively to secure the victory.

And Humphreys singled out Hook and Matt Kvesic for special praise after his side set up a home semi-final and remain unbeaten in Europe this season.

“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,” he said.

"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."

"When James (Hook) plays well, we play well. We see them every week and both (Hook & Kvesic) are quality international players and therefore we'd love to see them represent their country again."

Gloucester now face Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals Exeter Chiefs or Newcastle Falcons 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, Connacht head coach Pat Lam could take plenty of positives from his side’s gritty display in adversity in the West Country. 

“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
Tries: Sharples, Meakes
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
 
Connacht
Tries: penalty
Conversions: Carty
 
Attendance: 14,236
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

 

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