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Heineken Cup Pool 6: Gloucester come on strong to beat Perpignan
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Gloucester came from behind late on to earn a 27-22 win over Perpignan in their Heineken Cup Pool 6 opener.
Jonny May's 75th-minute try finally broke French resistance at Kingsholm after the visitors had led for long periods of the match.
Billy Twelvetrees, playing at stand-off after Freddie Burns was forced to withdraw from Gloucester's starting XV due to illness, kicked 17 points to go with tries for Jimmy Cowan and May.
James Hook scored all of Perpignan's points via a try, conversion, four penalties and a drop goal, while Lifeimi Mafi was sent off five minutes from time for a dangerous tackle.
Hook got the visitors off to a flying start with a first-minute try, created by a one-handed offload from wing Mandile Mjekevu.
Twelvetrees landed three penalties in the first half but Hook answered with two of his own to give Perpignan, who have never won a Heineken Cup match on English soil, a 13-9 edge at half-time.
Perpignan scrum-half Nicolas Durand was sin-binned early in the second half for deliberate offside and had barely left the field when his opposite number Cowan took a quick tap penalty and dived between two defenders for a try that put Gloucester in front for the first time.
But Hook's boot continued to influence proceedings, the Welsh full-back landing another two penalties - the second after Gloucester flanker Matt Kvesic was yellow carded for a breakdown infringement.
Hook followed up with a 62nd-minute drop goal as Perpignan opened a 22-16 advantage.
Twelvetrees' fourth penalty cut the gap to three points with 13 minutes remaining and, after a Mike Tindall forward pass in the build-up saw one May try chalked off, Ryan Mills' delayed delivery sent the winger over for the game winner.
Worse followed for Perpignan as referee Leighton Hodges spotted a tip tackle in the phase prior to May's try and, after checking on the big screen, issued a red card to Mafi.
Gloucester closed out the result without alarm, Twelvetrees adding his fifth penalty with the final kick and they now go to Munster next Saturday with renewed confidence after lifting the early-season gloom surrounding a poor start in the Aviva Premiership.Heineken Cup. Click here to bet.