Gloucester hold out leaders Exeter
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Gloucester strengthened their hold on a play-off spot with a hard-earned 24-17 win over the table-topping Exeter Chiefs team at Kingsholm on Friday.
Gloucester had to hold out in the face of a series of brutal raids by Exeter in the dying minutes, outscored to visitors by three tries to two.
Ben Morgan’s late try saw Gloucester upset the Chiefs and provide a twist to in the race to clinch top spot in the Premiership.
The 76th-minute score from Gloucester’s Morgan saw Johan Ackermann’s men rewarded for an effervescent showing under the Kingsholm floodlights, simultaneously inflicting a second successive away league defeat upon the Chiefs.
Nic White looked a cut above the rest as he fired Exeter into an early lead, the No.9 exploding off the back of the scrum and arrowing through a gap to score the game’s first try, Joe Simmonds converting.
But Gloucester bit back and after Billy Twelvetrees slotted away a penalty, Ollie Thorley’s class helped edge the hosts in front.
The wing showed sublime composure to pluck Danny Cipriani’s searching kick from the air under pressure whilst also offloading expertly into the path of Jason Woodward to go over, Twelvetrees adding the extras to make it 10-7.
A Simmonds penalty seven minutes after the break restored parity – but not for long as, after the home side battered the Exeter and worked through the phases time and again, Willi Heinz powered over the line, Twelvetrees converting superbly.
And just before the hour, White produced a timely intervention to prevent Thorley from dotting down, the Chiefs scrum-half scooping the ball away in the nick of time as Gloucester’s No.11 reached out in an attempt to grab his second try of the game.
White’s heroics proved all the more crucial as Exeter drew level with a rapier move, Gareth Steenson feeding Matt Kvesic, who blitzed forward before teeing up the onrushing Tom O’Flaherty to score, Steenson converting.
Two missed penalties appeared to let Exeter off the hook but Gloucester found match-winning inspiration late in the day, a searing cross-field move seeing the ball worked wide for Morgan to clinch it, Twelvetrees booting the extras.
Tries: Woodward, Heinz, Morgan
Cons: Twelvetrees 3
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: White, O’Flaherty
Cons: Simmonds, Steenson
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Banahan
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Nic White, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Dave Dennis, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Tom Hendrickson
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Adam Leal and Steve Lee
TMO: Trevor Fisher
🏟 Full-time at Kingsholm 🏟
A TENSE closing quarter but some heroic 🍒🍒 defence of their try-line ensured a classic victory over the league leaders 🙌
Who was the difference today? 👀 pic.twitter.com/93bmM3KXS0
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 15, 2019