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Gloucester Rugby 15 London Welsh 14

23 Mar 2013
Gloucester Rugby 15 London Welsh 14

Freddie Burns kicked all of Gloucester Rugby’s points as they edged their way past struggling London Welsh to keep their Aviva Premiership play-off hopes very much alive.

The Exiles, five points adrift at the foot of the table, led for much of the contest at Kingsholm and saw Phil MacKenzie cross the whitewash ten minutes after the interval.

But England fly-half Burns, who missed four penalties and was far from his best from the tee in blustery conditions, just about did enough to see his side over the line and keep up the pressure on their top-four rivals.

The hosts started on the front foot and in Welsh territory, Burns’ chip to the corner putting some early pressure on.

The Gloucester pack worked well and eventually got their rewards when Burns knocked over a sixth-minute penalty.

But six minutes later Gordon Ross responded with a long-range penalty of his own to level the scores.

The visiting fly-half then added another impressive kick in blustery conditions to make it 6-3 on 25 minutes.

Moments later Burns chose to kick to touch from a penalty and after a couple of phases, with the posts in his sights, he opted to go for the three points after the award of another penalty but it swung just wide.

Conditions were making free-flowing rugby as difficult as the kicks, but Burns gave Gloucester parity with the last act of the half – his second successful penalty of the afternoon making it 6-6 at half-time.

While Gloucester were quickest out of the traps in the first half it was London Welsh who started with more intent in the second.

The Exiles were looking dangerous five metres out before Jonny May was deemed to have deliberately knocked on and was shown a yellow card. Ross calmly notched the penalty to regain the visitors’ lead.

Straight back up the other end of the field Burns missed another penalty, this time five metres outside the 22, and he was made to pay on 51 minutes.

An excellent drive from former Gloucester No.8 Daniel Browne found Ross who managed to offload to wing MacKenzie who touched down excellently. Ross missed the conversion but Welsh still held a 14-6 lead.

Ross’ previously expert touch with the boot was beginning to wane as he missed again from the tee – this time a penalty on the hour mark.

That, and an injection of pace from full-back Rob Cook, breathed some life into the hosts who were awarded a penalty for their endeavour and Burns reduced their arrears to five points.

That was to become two points with 12 minutes remaining as Burns began to find his form and the Kingsholm faithful found their voice.

Returning Six Nations stars Billy Twelvetrees and Jim Hamilton then instigated Gloucester’s best move of the match, culminating in a penalty awarded just five metres out, but Burns dragged it wide in a nerve-racking finale.

However, with six minutes remaining, a huge drive from Gloucester’s scrum earned him a reprieve and Burns took full advantage to nudge the hosts in front 15-14.

Burns missed a last-gasp attempt at another three points but it mattered little for the Cherry & Whites whose hopes of a top-four finish remain intact.

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