A hat-trick of first-half tries, two of which were finished off by loosehead prop Marcus Horan, and 15 points from Ronan O'Gara were the key factors as the west country side were completely outplayed at set-pieces and in the loose. An early penalty miss by outside-half O'Gara seemed to bring Gloucester into the game and a right-to-left penalty from the boot of centre Henry Paul - scorer of 17 points last Saturday - from 28 metres put the visitors in front. Paul went on to repeat his feat twice more in the opening period, with identical and equally effortless-looking kicks on 27 and 37 minutes, but those three penalties proved to be the only indiscretions on Munster's penalty count in the opening 40 minutes. It was the mid-point of the half which swung the tie so favourably towards the hosts as Gloucester hooker Chris Fortey, just back from suspension, saw yellow for repeated rucking offences. A pick-and-drive off a Munster scrum 20 metres from the visitors' line saw first Anthony Foley and then skipper Jim Williams take out the Gloucester tacklers with Horan eventually scoring the the try. With the Zurich Premiership side working off little possession, Munster's front eight scrambled over off a 20-metre drive with hooker and man-of-the-match Frankie Sheahan unearthed as the scorer, his sixth Heineken Cup effort, in the 34th minute. Munster's 12-6 lead was cut by Paul's third penalty but a clever short penalty tap by Horan saw Junior Paramore fail to hold off the front row as Gloucester conceded a third try, converted by O'Gara for a 19-9 half-time advantage. Munster's proud unbeaten record at the Limerick venue in European competition never looked in doubt, but Gloucester full-back John Goodridge stormed over for his side's only try on 48 minutes, picking his line perfectly past the weary tackles of Horan and Sheahan. Paul's conversion attempt was wayward and three minutes later, with the scores at 22-14, a cynical knock-on by the New Zealand-born centre saw him sin-binned. A forward pass by Shaun Payne robbed Horan of a glorious hat-trick of tries in the 62nd minute, but with centre Mike Mullins exposing Gloucester in open play they ran in a fourth with 11 minutes remaining as John Kelly swept over in the right corner. The win moved Munster back level with Gloucester in Pool 5, but ahead on try count, with an away trip to Treviso next Saturday.
Munster (35) Tries: Sheahan, Horan 2, Kelly Cons: O'Gara 3 Pens: O'Gara 3
Gloucester (14) Tries::Goodridge Pens: Paul 3
Shaun Payne; John Kelly, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson, Anthony Horgan; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Frank Sheahan, John Hayes; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell; Jim Williams capt, David Wallace, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: James Blaney, Gordon McIlwham, David Pusey, Stephen Keogh, Eoin Reddan, Jeremy Staunton, Jason Holland
15. Jon Goodridge 14. Marcel Garvey 13. Terry Fanolua 12. Henry Paul 11. James Simpson-Daniel 10. Duncan McRae 9. Andy Gomarsall 1. Trevor Woodman 2. Chris Fortey 3. Andy Deacon 4. Alex Brown 5. Mark Cornwell 6. Jake Boer (c) 7. Peter Buxton 8. Junior Paramore
Replacements: 16. Chris Collins (hooker) 17. Phil Vickery (prop) 18. Rodrigo Roncero (prop) 19. Adam Eustace (lock) 20. James Forrester (back-row) 21. Alex Page (scrum-half) 22. Robert Todd (centre/wing).