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Henry Hopes for Happy Return
1 January 2004, 12:59 am
Henry Paul has good reason to remember Thomond Park, last season he was replaced after 61 minutes of his side's 33-6 defeat against Munster that saw the English champions slide out of the Heineken Cup
Henry Paul has good reason to remember Thomond Park - last season he was replaced after 61 minutes of his side's 33-6 defeat against Munster that saw the English champions slide out of the Heineken Cup in incredible circumstances.

That game became known in Ireland as "The Miracle Match" as the Munstermen reached their four-try, 27-point target to reach the quarter-finals. Having beaten Munster 22-11 in the first leg at Kingsholm last weekend, Saturday's showdown at a packed Thomond Park will give Paul, the 17-points Heineken Man of the Match hero at home, the chance to exorcise his demons.

"Some said we were disgraced in Munster, but they played very well. They went for the game and we were naive and stupid. I remember getting a few high balls to deal with. You make mistakes, roll with it and get on with life," he said.

"Thomond Park is very similar to Kingsholm and I really enjoyed the atmosphere over there - I was really buzzing. They really got in our faces and swamped us.

"It was good for the fans to see us beat them at home, but we still know that Munster are a threat. They came back well into the game, but thankfully we were up on points.

"We are really wary about going back to Limerick because funny things can happen under pressure. We have got to put them under pressure and see how we can handle their pressure.

"We had a game plan at Kingsholm that I don't think will work over there. They will have worked us out after this defeat, although I'm sure our coaches Dean Ryan and Nigel Melville will have something new for us to take to Munster.

"I love the game plan we have - it's exactly what I have been used to in rugby league. It's just about getting the balance right.

"I have been lucky to come to a Gloucester club that has got a lot of talented players. Kingsholm has always been thought of as a difficult place to come to, but we are mixing that with controlled flair. We want to entertain and have a go.

"I am just cruising along. I'm just trying to get the ball wide to other people and I think I am doing well for the team. It's been good having Duncan McRae at the club because he has an attacking frame of mind.

"Munster are very good wide out. They are very good at covering both sides of the field. We ran them off their feet but they rolled with the punches like a good team. There were a lot of opportunities we didn't take."

Gloucester director of rugby Melville was pleased with his side's victory at home and is hopeful that England World Cup hero Phil Vickery will be fit to resume after recovering from a rib injury.

"Thomond Park is coming. We are looking forward to going there, but we know it will be totally different over there," said Melville.

"We are pleased we had so much ball and at half-time, when the score was only 3-3, we told the team to keep playing with ambition. We kept working very hard as a team and took some good decisions. I think we are a little bit smarter than last year."

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