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Atkinson: Luck was on Gloucester Rugby’s side

Centre Mark Atkinson believes lady luck was finally shining down on Gloucester Rugby this weekend as the Cherry & Whites edged a one-point Aviva Premiership Rugby thriller against Exeter Chiefs.

After a close first-half which saw Gloucester lead via two Greig Laidlaw penalties, the game at Sandy Park took off after the break as quick-fire Jack Nowell and Matt Jess tries edged the hosts in front.

Tom Savage then replied with a third in five minutes before the lead exchanged hands four times with Ben Morgan and Thomas Waldrom swapping tries but with Gareth Steenson missing the conversion for the hosts, Gloucester held on for the 26-25 win.

The victory was only the Cherry & Whites’ second in seven Aviva Premiership Rugby matches and lifts them up to ninth in the table.

But while it may have been an entertaining affair for the neutral, Atkinson admitted the match had more than tested his side’s resilience.

“It was a hard one out there, I think the fans got value for money but it was really nice to be out there the right side of that narrow victory,” he told Gloucester’s official website.

“In recent weeks and at the start of the season we’ve been on the other side of that quite a few times so it’s massive for us as a squad.

“I don’t think we want it to be that exciting. We played really well in the first half, we managed to go in winning and we came out and we started really well.

“It was a testament to us as players. It showed a lot of character as a squad to come back from conceding two tries in a minute.

“The key was our discipline and maybe it’s bad to say but we got a bit lucky. Steenson hardly ever misses kicks and unfortunately the whole season we’ve been on the wrong end of those decisions or the bounce of the ball.

“Luckily we were just on the right side and unfortunately for Exeter they were on the wrong side.”

After the game, man of the match Matt Kvesic admitted he thought the result could help build some momentum within Gloucester’s ranks.

And Atkinson was quick to agree with him, adding that the team was not far off clicking into top gear.

“We’re still trying to find our way as a team and I think that is evident,” he added. “There’s still a new back line being put together but there is a lot of quality out there and I think slowly but surely it is starting to gel.

“Against a side like Exeter, who really like to throw the ball around, you’ve got to accept that you’re going to have areas where you are under pressure and thankfully we managed to keep them out in the first half when they really looked like they could have gone over.

“And that’s credit to our defence and the hard work we’ve been putting in.”

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