Reaction: Gloucester complete hat-trick of Premiership Rugby 7s Plate victories
Gloucester Rugby pulled off a remarkable late comeback against Sale Sharks as they defended their Premiership Rugby 7s Plate crown once again at Franklin’s Gardens.
A third consecutive Plate victory appeared to be slipping from the grasp of the Cherry and Whites after Sale opened up a 29-17 advantage with only four minutes left on the clock.
But tries from Reece Dunn, Tom Stanton and Stephen Varney in the closing minutes saw the West Country outfit begin the new domestic season with silverware as they triumphed 34-29.
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Corey Howells, Joe Howard and Alex Morgan also got on the scoresheet for Gloucester, while Tom Curtis (2), Luke James, Raffi Quirke and Tom Roebuck dotted down for Sale.
It was the second time in a day Gloucester were forced to stage a fightback to keep their title defence alive, having also trailed Northampton Saints in their semi-final clash.
The hosts thought they had booked their place in the Plate showpiece after tries from Conor Tupai, Tommy Freeman and Josh Gillespie put them 28-19 ahead with only a minute left.
A sensational solo try from Morgan offered Gloucester a glimmer of hope, though, before the captain crossed again with the clock in the red to leave Northampton stunned.
WHAT THEY SAID
Gloucester captain Alex Morgan said: “Words can’t describe how good that felt to lift the Plate. There was a lot of pressure on us to try and win it three years in a row but the boys stuck at it.
“We had a lot of work ons from the day before and I just think we nailed them down in the warm-ups at the start and then we just corrected them straight through and got the Ws.
“On that pitch when there’s only seven minutes a half there’s no doubting yourself, you just have to give it all you can and luckily we had great substitutions to come on and bring the energy.
“Energy and drive that’s what we were talking about all week and that’s exactly what we had. The first day as captain was stressful, especially after having two losses on the bounce.
“That didn’t feel too good but luckily we had a great group of boys and the levels went up. I scored a couple of tries but I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the team.”
Academy coach Matt Teague said: “It was a bit of a rollercoaster obviously, coming back from both games but we said we wanted to emulate last year and we certainly did that.
“I think everybody at the club will be very proud of this group of players considering it’s made up of our entire academy first and second years, so it’s been an outstanding effort.
“For the boys to come back the way they did after day one was unbelievable. The one thing that gets instilled from a young age at Gloucester is to never die without a fight.
“It goes back to the club’s values and it’s fantastic that they showed that in bucketfuls, it was just fantastic. This weekend has been a huge experience for them.
“Some of them are experiencing sevens for the first time and half of the squad were in Portugal, so to be able to put it together and come away with some silverware is fantastic for Gloucester.