After 78 minutes of gruelling work and mostly great rugby from the Cherry and Whites, they fell short at the final hurdle against Sale at Kingsholm for the first game of the New Year.
Gloucester Rugby’s work this week on the set piece was tested quickly, before a penalty awarded to Gloucester Rugby and easily slotted by Lloyd Evans gave the home side the lead in the 5th minute. With some truly great charges by Gloucester Rugby, including one from skipper Lewis Ludlow, Sale got to showcase the strength of their defence on the line.
Gloucester Rugby soon found themselves in hot water however in the sixteenth minute after a strong scrum from Sale and a big push forward. Earning themselves a penalty, allowing MacGuinty to level the score for the Sharks.
The Cherry and Whites continued their confident run with some textbook play following a line out, showcasing the strength of the set piece. Fraser Balmain touched the ball down to bring Gloucester Rugby five points clear.
Gloucester Rugby now continued to build momentum inside the Sale 22 as they demonstrated their flare in loose play, with a penalty being awarded against Sale by Dickson, and the other five minutes later.
Louis Rees-Zammit received the ball for a stunning try from Chris Harris on the wing, with the inside centre making the crucial break through the Sale line. However, with Gloucester Rugby giving away a couple of penalties at the breakdown just before half time, they needed to be careful.
Going into the second half 16-12 to Gloucester Rugby, Sale undoubtedly came out stronger. This was demonstrated by the close call on the Gloucester Rugby line in the 50th minute. Skivington will however be pleased with the progress made in the set piece, and a strong charge at the Sale line followed after a lineout from Gloucester Rugby.
The Cherry and White pack also demonstrated some wonderful play as they came 5m from the Sale line. Following a kick to the corner from Evans however, play broke down, leaving the Cherry and Whites disappointed that they didn’t convert that chance into five points. A penalty however was awarded to Gloucester Rugby right in front of the post, giving Evans the chance to further the lead, putting the home team in the lead 19-15 with ten minutes to go.
A big call was made from Karl Dickson, awarding Sale a penalty and ultimately changing the tide of the game. A lineout six metres from the Gloucester Rugby line left the home side defence eroded as Sale pushed forward relentlessly. After some deliberation, a try awarded to Sale under Josh Beaumont’s name tipped the game in favour of the visitors. AJ MacGuinty slotted the two points with ease brining the final score to 19-22. The whistle did not come before some drama however, as handbags resulted in a yellow card for Billy Twelvetrees showing the level of tension between the two closely matched sides.
Report by Charlotte Cutter.
Key Moment – Louis Rees-Zammit try
It was a break from Chris Harris who snaked his way up the pitch. The Scottish international then shipped the ball with perfection out to Louis Rees-Zammit who went over to score his first try of 2021.
Gloucester Rugby are back in action next weekend when they travel away to Newcastle for Round Six of the Gallagher Premiership.