Billy Burns’ last-gasp try capped a stirring Gloucester Rugby comeback and denied Newcastle Falcons just a second Aviva Premiership Rugby away win in 18 months in an enthralling encounter at Kingsholm.
Gloucester trailed by 17 points with a little over ten minutes remaining before Billy Twelvetrees, Henry Purdy and Burns all crossed to break Newcastle hearts.
That was the Cherry & Whites’ first lead of the day as Mark Wilson, Sinoti Sinoti, Scott Lawson and Josh Furno had all gone over for the Falcons.
But Dan Robson also touched down in a superb second half for the hosts as they extended their eight-match unbeaten home streak.
The Falcons came into the game off the back of five defeats in a row but after a cagey opening, they got on the board first through a glorious team move.
A quick line-out saw Simon Hammersley, Sinoti and Chris Harris combine to free the supporting Wilson who dotted down before Rory Clegg added the extras to make it 7-0.
Gloucester had already lost England winger Jonny May to injury and missed an early penalty but their misery was soon compounded as the visitors went over for try number two after 19 minutes.
Another slick move saw No.8 Ally Hogg surge through a gaping hole in the hosts’ defence before releasing speedster Sinoti who raced over for his ninth league try of the campaign, Clegg once again doing the honours from the tee.
The Cherry & Whites had lost just twice to Newcastle at Kingsholm in Aviva Premiership Rugby history and being 14-0 behind seemed to galvanise them into attempting to avoid a third defeat.
Firstly, Burns made amends for his earlier penalty miss by slotting a three-pointer and then created the home side’s first try.
The Falcons turned the ball over in their opponents’ 22 and a missed tackle allowed Burns to sprint clear before timing his pass to Twelvetrees to perfection, enabling the England centre to canter over.
The conversion narrowed the deficit to four points and both fly-halves then traded penalties but the visitors refused to let up.
With three minutes to go before half-time, an inexorable driving maul ended with former Gloucester man Lawson bundling over beneath the pack.
And Clegg’s conversion and subsequent penalty ensured the Falcons held a 27-13 lead at the break.
Trailing by 14 points, one might have expected the Cherry & Whites to come out of the changing rooms all guns blazing but a low-key start to the second half only saw the sides trade three-pointers.
Sinoti was continuing to make defence-puncturing runs and the Falcons were also strong in defence but Clegg’s speculative, and wayward, drop goal effort summed up a low-quality third quarter.
However, the game burst into life with 15 minutes to go when Robson darted over from close-range and Burns’ conversion brought the hosts back in touch.
Less than two minutes later though, Italian lock Furno sealed the bonus-point try for Newcastle and appeared to put the game to bed as he finished a move started by Ruki Tipuna.
But this high-scoring game was far from finished as Twelvetrees raced clear for his second try of the day before Purdy put on the after-burners and stepped inside off the touchline for a second try in as many minutes.
Burns nailed both kicks to narrow the gap to 40-37 and set up a grandstand finale.
Having wrapped up their four-try bonus point, Gloucester went all out to snatch the unlikeliest of victories as they forced a five-metre line-out before being held up over the Newcastle try-line.
And their pressure was finally rewarded once the clock seeped into the red as they shipped the ball wide and Burns had enough space to go over for the score and the 42-40 triumph.
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