Harlequins had looked to be on the verge of snatching a home victory and putting the miseries of last season firmly behind them after fly-half Paul Burke slotted a drop-goal to put his side in the lead in the 75th minute.
But it was not to be for the Londoners after Woodman’s bullocking run clinched the match for the west country side who have been widely tipped to win the title by many aficionados.
Certainly, Nigel Melville’s side looked nothing like champions-in-waiting during the early part of the match, showing none of the promise displayed during their two pre-season victories over Welsh club Newport.
It was Harlequins who had the better of the first quarter, a slick handling move bringing a try for wing Matt Moore in the 10th minute.
With Gloucester reduced to 14 men after second row Mark Cornwell was sent to the sin-bin, Quins opened up a 10-nil lead as the visitors struggled to find any continuity in their game.
But then things began to go awry for Harlequins as Gloucester sparked into life, racking up 18 unanswered points before half-time, No.8 Junior Paramore and wing Marcel Garvey barging over for tries and Henry Paul two penalties and a conversion.
That made it 18-10 in Gloucester’s favour, but Harlequins looked in determined mood in the second half, Burke keeping them in touch with two penalties and then landing his drop-goal.
But then came Woodman’s intervention, ensuring Gloucester got their new campaign off to a flying start.
For Harlequins:Tries: Matt Moore. Cons: Paul Burke. Pens: Paul Burke (3) Drop-goal: Paul Burke
For Gloucester:Tries: Marcel Garvey, Junior Paramore, Trevor Woodman Cons: Ludovic Mercier, Henry Paul. Pens: Henry Paul (2)