Gloucester Rugby just can’t catch a break at the moment. On Friday evening, they went toe to toe with one of the Gallagher Premiership’s in form teams and gave it everything only to see a couple of key moments swing the game the way of the visitors.
In difficult conditions at Kingsholm, there was very little to choose between the two teams and, although the Cherry and Whites battled for very last inch of territory, one or two key moments went Sale’s way and resulted in them taking the win.
Credit to the visitors, their defence was rock solid, Steve Diamond’s team are a very well drilled team. And, crucially, they made the most of the moments when Lady Luck smiled on them.
Johan Ackermann’s team battled their hearts out and there were some positive moments as they fought their way back into the game. They were backed by a tremendous Kingsholm crowd and almost pulled off a great comeback. But it wasn’t quite to be.
For nearly half an hour, it was an absolute arm wrestle with neither team able to gain the ascendancy. Rob du Preez opened the scoring with a 26th minute penalty, before the Sharks extended their lead in a fortuitous way.
A grubber kick hit a foot, looped in the air and then squirted loose. The ball was hacked on and Luke James touched down. The conversion was good and the Cherry and Whites were 0-10 down and chasing the game.
An error then led to Sale’s second try at the start of the second half. A dropped up and under led to a close-range lineout and Bryn Evans claimed the try.
Gloucester Rugby then got some reward for their efforts as Fraser Balmain forced his way over from close range. However, another error, this time a ball going loose in midfield saw Marland Yarde sprint over to extend the lead again.
The Cherry and Whites hit back, with some luck of their own this time, the ball hitting Matt Banahan in the face, ricocheting forward and Billy Twelvetrees scoring.
At 17-20, the Kingsholm crowd dared to dream, but a late du Preez penalty settled Sale nerves and clinched the 17-23 win.