Gloucester 20-21 Newcastle Falcons
Tries from Ally Hogg and Michael Young and the boot of stand-in fly-half Joel Hodgson saw Newcastle end Gloucester’s unbeaten home run in the Premiership.
The Cherry and Whites thought they had stolen the game when Lewis Ludlow was driven over four minutes from time, but a fourth conversion was missed. Ludlow’s score was Gloucester’s fourth try after Jason Woodward, David Halaifonua and Mark Atkinson went over. But Newcastle held on for their sixth away Premiership win this season. The result kept the Falcons’ surprise bid for a top-four place firmly on track – sending them third in the table – and they held Gloucester at arms’ length for most of the game. Hogg scored their first try after scrum-half Young claimed a box kick, broke clear and sent his flanker to the line, before Young scored himself in the second half, attacking space on the left wing, dummying and darting inside.
Gloucester had no trouble finding the try-line themselves as Woodward gathered his own grubber to score the game’s opening try, Halaifonua barged into the left corner and, after sustained pressure, Atkinson beat Maxime Mermoz to go over. But all three tries failed to be converted by Billy Burns and when the fourth conversion was left to Billy Twelvetrees, he also missed as Gloucester were left to settle for only two points and lost ground on the play-offs. Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said, “Last week when we drew against Wasps, we had 40% possession and were lucky. Today we had the lion’s share, but we couldn’t put them away.” He added, “It’s very disappointing for the group of players and it is hurting them but we had to work very hard for our four tries while we gave them two soft ones. The bench made a difference and we fought hard, but we can’t blame the goal-kickers as we shouldn’t have been in that position.” Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards commented, “Toby Flood dropped out late on with illness and, though it’s never easy, Joel slotted in easily and did a really good job. He knows our systems as this was his 50th appearance for the club. It’s been a disruptive week for us with all the snow in Northumbria making travel difficult for some of the lads and then we lost prop Rob Vickers on Friday night as he had to return home when his wife gave birth. I’m delighted with the win as the side is maturing and our defence is improving month by month, but we still didn’t compete at the breakdown as well as we should and were bullied a bit in that area.”
Gloucester: Jason; Sharples, Scott, Atkinson, Halaifonua; Burns, Heinz (capt); Rapava Ruskin, Hibbard, Balmain; Savage, Galarza; Clarke, Polledri, Ackermann.
Replacements: Matu’u, Hohneck, Afoa, Slater, Ludlow, Braley, Twelvetrees, Marshall.
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti; Hodgson, Young; Lockwood, Cooper, Welsh; Green, Robinson; Hogg, Welch (capt), Latu.
Replacements: Lawson, Wilson, Davison, Witty, Chick, Takulua, Penny, Mermoz.