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Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 39 Sale Sharks 30

15 Apr 2017
Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 39 Sale Sharks 30

Billy Twelvetrees’ late try and a wonderful display by Tom Marshall settled a see-saw game as Gloucester Rugby recorded a fourth consecutive win against Sale Sharks.

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.

Both sides had half-chances to start the game and it was Marshall who opened the scoring, having stopped Mike Haley and a promising Sale attack in its tracks moments before.

Jonny May was also central to a wonderful break as he exchanged passes with Marshall before the latter stormed over the line.

But almost immediately after Burns’ conversion sailed over, Sale hit back. Gloucester botched the restart and centre James spotted the overlap to finish off a clinical Sharks move.

And the Cherry & Whites were rocked further when former Wales and Lions scrum-half Phillips, who announced he is to retire at the end of the season earlier this week, completed the turnaround.

Teenager Ben Curry tracked down a grubber and finished off his good work by offloading to Phillips, who needed no second invitation.

AJ MacGinty made one conversion of two but Burns was off target with a relatively simple penalty attempt to keep Sale five points in front at the end of the first quarter.

To their credit, Gloucester re-established themselves, with Marshall, Charlie Sharples and Jeremy Thrush all helping to put Sale on the backfoot.

And after sustained pressure in the corner, Hibbard finally got Gloucester over at the back fo a driving maul. Burns’ missed conversion kept the score level at 12-12.

But the fly-half had the last word of the first half as his penalty, after Sale were pinged on the floor, nudged Gloucester ahead.

Sale responded immediately when the teams re-emerged as MacGinty sniped through a gap and prop Longbottom completed his fly-half’s good work.

Sale’s tries again came in twos, as McGuigan grabbed Sale’s bonus-point try after Josh Beaumont had made hay down the wing. By the 48th minute, Sale were nine points ahead.

The impressive Curry was proving a menace at the breakdown as Gloucester struggled to recover from another frenetic period of Sale play.

But it was game on at the end of the third quarter – Trinder getting the all-important breakthrough after a good Gloucester spell, and Burns converted to chop down the deficit to two points.

Sale were winning the battle at the breakdown, however, and another infringement saw MacGinty give them three points more breathing space from the tee.

The tide turned in Gloucester’s favour when Ross Harrison was sin-binned for stopping replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott taking a quick tap penalty.

And after Gloucester kicked to the corner, the TMO ruled out a Ben Morgan try, only for Marshall to complete the job and his double moments later – Burns nudged Gloucester ahead with the extras.

The hosts were finally out of sight in the 75th minute and unsurprisingly Marshall was at the move’s heart, his break allowing Vellacott to find Twelvetrees and wrap up the win.

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