Harlequins claimed a first Aviva Premiership Rugby win at Kingsholm since 1999 as tries from Nick Easter, Luke Wallace and Charlie Walker saw them down a determined Gloucester Rugby.
It had all started so positively for Gloucester as returning England international Billy Twelvetrees scored four unanswered penalties early on but as the game wore on Harlequins’ power upfront told.
Despite impressing with ball in hand; Twelvetrees – eager to impress England boss Stuart Lancaster – missed a hatful of kicks at goal after the break as Harlequins ground down their opposition.
Twelvetrees looked like a man with a point to prove in the opening minutes for the Cherry and Whites as the Gloucester skipper was involved in everything good about the home side’s game.
He landed two penalties in the opening six minutes, including a monster second effort from inside his own half and it could have got even worse for Harlequins on 16 minutes but Twelvetrees missed his third kick of the evening.
Twelvetrees was a late inclusion for Gloucester having spent the week with England at their Surrey training base but his control of the midfield was impressive from the off.
It was his long pass on 22 minutes that saw Gloucester comes within a whisker of scoring the game’s first try – Rob Cook was held up unfortunately before being forced to retire from the evening after injuring his shoulder in the process.
Further Harlequins’ indiscipline saw Gloucester extend their lead on 23 and 26 minutes – Twelvetrees kicking two more penalties midway through the half.
Seven England players were unavailable for the match at Kingsholm, with Joe Marler, Mike Brown, Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Marland Yarde away for Quins, while the Cherry and Whites were without duo Jonny May and Ben Morgan, plus Welsh international James Hook and Scotland star Greig Laidlaw.
And it was Harlequins who seemed to be suffering more from the absentees in the opening minutes as they struggled to get into the Gloucester half in the opening half hour.
But with almost their first visit to the Gloucester 22, Quins skipper for the night Nick Easter rumbled over from an attacking lineout for Harlequins and Nick Evans added the extras against the run of play.
For all their superiority Gloucester’s lead was further cut minutes later as Evans dragged Harlequins back to within two points with a penalty and it could have been worse for the home side but the New Zealander missed an earlier kick at goal.
After an impressive start to the evening with the boot; Twelvetrees missed a straightforward kick at the posts with just a minute of the half remaining as Gloucester regained a foothold in the game even if the scoreboard didn’t reflect their dominance.
Harlequins looked like a different side after the break; dominant at the set piece and inventive behind the scrum. And it was the visitors who came close to scoring on 50 minutes as a wonderful line break from Evans and off-load to Ollie Lindsay-Hague saw the winger bundled into touch just metres from the Gloucester line.
Twelvetrees missed two kicks on 52 and 56 minutes as Gloucester had the opportunity to put some much-needed daylight between themselves and Harlequins – the England’s man’s accuracy from the tee deserting him after the break.
Those misses proved costly as Harlequins scored their second try of the evening on 58 minutes – another powerful drive saw the visitors rumble over again; this time it was Luke Wallace to touchdown and Evans added the extras.
An ankle knock to Twelvetrees on 60 minutes saw the kicking duties handed to replacement Aled Thomas and he landed a penalty to leave the score at 17-15 to Harlequins with a quarter of the game still to play.
Gloucester should have scored a try on 70 minutes but after 17 phases in the Harlequins 22 the home side knocked on and the Conor O’Shea’s men cleared their lines.
Harlequins wrapped up the points with just two minutes to play as wing Charlie Walker gathered a kick through following a scrum in centre field – Evans was unable to add the conversion.