Gloucester overcame Sale by a whisker 23-19 to move up to sixth in the Aviva Premiership
The Cherry and Whites led 11-8 at half-time thanks to Rob Cook’s try and two penalties from Billy Twelvetrees
Nev Edwards brace plus three penalties from Danny Cipriani makes up the Sharks total
Two second half tries in a four-minute period from number 8 Sione Kalamafoni secures the win for the hosts
Gloucester took just two minutes to score a try after having previously gone 180 minutes without touching down as they overcame Sale in a tight and tense Aviva Premiership encounter on Friday night.
Sale have now lost eight consecutive away games but do head back to the North-West with a well-deserved losing bonus-point while the Cherry and Whites continue their outstanding home record, which has seen them only lose once at Kingsholm in 2015, to move up to sixth in the division.
Gloucester had narrowly led 11-8 at half-time following a tight and tense opening 40. Rob Cook’s try and two penalties from Billy Twelvetrees meant despite a frustrating first half in many ways for the hosts; they could at least be happy that their side took a narrow lead into the break.
The Sharks, despite being behind, had bounced back from their subdued display against Newcastle a week prior and were well in the game at the interval thanks to a delightful chip from Danny Cipriani to Nev Edwards, who ran into score, before the number 10 completed the Sharks opening 40 tally with a penalty.
After the break, following a yellow card to Gloucester’s Richard Hibbard, Sale captured the lead as Cipriani shot over a penalty goal before Edwards raced in for his second try. However, two tries in four minutes from Sione Kalamafoni with the latter converted by Greig Laidlaw ensured Gloucester crept home to what could be a critical victory
Cipriani slotted another penalty to set up a grandstand finish, but the Cherry and Whites defended fantastically to hang on. The performance though from Sale though was much improved, and you expect that this sort of display is something they will look to build on in a few weeks time following the European break.
The Cherry and Whites, who hadn’t scored a try in 180 minutes of Premiership rugby, took just two minutes to cross the whitewash for the opening score through fullback Cook. A mistake directly off the kick off gave the hosts a lineout deep in the Sale 22, and 15 phases later a terrific offload from James Hook got Cook free to touch down in the left corner. Twelvetrees though could not add the difficult touchline conversion from 40m out, 5-0.
The Sharks responded with a beautiful try from Edwards after 11 minutes. An exquisite outside of the right boot chip over the top by Cipriani had found his old schoolmate before the winger sped away from two Gloucester defenders to dive over. The Sale fly-half though saw his attempted conversion go wide, leaving the game in the balance.
Sale were now beginning to win a lot more ball and were able to edge in front when a penalty came their way with Cipriani slotting it confidently after 17 minutes, 5-8.
Twelvetrees though took advantage of the first penalty conceded by the Sharks after 24 minutes to level things up before kicking another from long-range three minutes later to edge the hosts in front.
And that is how things stayed, leaving things evenly poised going into half-time at Kingsholm, 11-8.
The visitors though had the perfect start after the break as Cipriani struck over a penalty one minute after the restart to level things up once again.
Sale, who were now very much on the front foot, four minutes later found themselves a man up as Gloucester’s Hibbard was yellow carded for bringing down a maul illegally by referee JP Doyle, who was becoming just the 10th referee to take charge of 100 Premiership Rugby matches.
With the man advantage, Sale took immediate advantage with Edwards finishing off another great move from the visitors for his second try after 48 minutes. A magical run from fullback Mike Haley opened up the vulnerable looking home defence before his pin-point pass to Edwards gave the winger room to burst over the whitewash for his brace. Cipriani though couldn’t add the difficult touchline conversion, 11-16.
However, with Laidlaw introduced from the bench Gloucester, even a man down, looked like a different team and replied with try of their own from Kalamafoni after 56 minutes. The powerful back-rower received a pass from Cook before charging over the top of Cipriani to score in the corner. Laidlaw couldn’t add the extras, leaving the game level yet again.
Gloucester, with the momentum, then recaptured the lead with Kalamafoni crashing over for his second try in four minutes on the hour mark. The robust number 8 charged in for his brace, which was awarded following a trip to the TMO. Laidlaw subsequently added the extras to give the hosts a seven-point lead, 23-16.
Cipriani cut the deficit with another penalty goal after 70 minutes, setting up a grandstand finish but despite some late pressure from Sale, the hosts were able to hold on for the victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gloucester: Sione Kalamafoni
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Henry Purdy.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Nev Edwards, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 David Seymour, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings.
Date: Friday, November 4
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Paul Dix
Television match official: Stuart Terheege
Timekeeper: Eric Bullion
Assessor: Nigel Yates