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Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 39 Sale Sharks 30

Gloucester Rugby interim head coach Jonny Bell believes his side can continue to fight on both fronts as they kept their hopes of a top-six Aviva Premiership Rugby finish alive with victory over Sale Sharks.

In a thrilling contest, Sale kept the Cherry & Whites in check for much of the game before the hosts pulled away thanks to the brilliance of Tom Marshall and the impact of substitutes such as Ben Vellacott.

Billy Twelvetrees wrapped up the bonus-point win that takes Gloucester to within a point of sixth-placed Harlequins, and Bell admits his side sense an opportunity.

“We are going to fight tooth and nail in every game to the end of the season,” said Bell. “But before those remaining Premiership fixtures we have a Challenge Cup semi-final at La Rochelle next week and that’s massively exciting for us as we aim to upset the applecart.

“I’m delighted with the five points but we always make life difficult by hurting ourselves.

“We scored five excellent tries but we gift-wrapped them three or four easy tries and there were too many fundamental mistakes.

“We’ve probably played better this season and lost. The replacements made a big impact to get over the line but there is still plenty to work on.”

Marshall had got Gloucester off to a storming start but their advantage was soon eradicated by Sam James and Mike Phillips, only for Richard Hibbard and the kicking of Billy Burns to make sure Kingsholm spent the half-time break happy.

Another quickfire double for Sharks – through Kieran Longbottom and Byron McGuigan – stunned the Cherry & Whites, but they kept their composure to rescue the game.

Henry Trinder scored before Marshall’s bonus-point try ten minutes before time, and the full-back then turned provider for Twelvetrees to finish the game off.

Sale did pick up a try bonus point but having taken the lead at numerous points in the game, Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond admits their inconsistency this season is why are down in tenth place in the table.

“Our aim was to come down here and score four tries, which we did, but we should have had at least another point,” he said.

“We gifted Gloucester tries but they brought on a few experienced players in the last quarter which made the difference.

“We are what we are and our position in the table reflects it. Week in week out, we are inconsistent and we are even inconsistent during the course of games.”

Tries: Marshall 2, Hibbard, Trinder, Twelvetrees
Conversions: Burns 4
Penalties: 2

Sale Sharks
Tries: James, Phillips, Longbottom, McGuigan
Conversions: MacGinty 2
Penalties: MacGinty 2

Referee: Tom Foley
Attendance: 12,928

Gloucester: Marshall; Sharples (Halaifonua 75), Trinder (Twelvetrees 63), Atkinson, May; Burns, Braley (Vellacott 55); Hohneck (McAllister 55), Hibbard (Matu’u 43), Afoa; Thrush, Galarza (Savage 69); Moriarty, Ludlow, Clarke (Morgan 48).
Subs not used: Knight

Sale: Haley; Solomona, James, Jennings, McGuigan (Charnley 69); MacGinty, Phillips (Mitchell 75); Harrison, Webber, Aulika (Longbottom 23); Evans, Ostrikov; Neild, B Curry (Flynn 69), Beaumont (T Curry 60).
Subs not used: Pearce, Bedlow

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.

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