Gloucester Rugby: Simplicity ends northern jinx at Newcastle
Newcastle 16 Gloucester 22
SIMPLICITY in the match- turning tries, but the securing of a second successive Premiership victory of the season was far from simple.
Rob Cook and Jonny May’s tries were the product of simple straight running and sympathetic passing, both with a bit of added James Simpson-Daniel magic.
Gloucester should have tied the game up after May’s score just before the hour.
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But Newcastle provided their Kingston Park stubborn streak to push the Cherry and Whites all the way.
Much graft of merit from Gloucester then, but still plenty to sharpen – the odd scrum wobble and the inevitable driving lineout defensive foibles.
But a win any which way in the North East is neither to be sniffed at nor underrated – this was Gloucester’s first Premiership win at Newcastle since December 2007.
Mike Blair’s delayed pass to captain Will Welch had Newcastle breaking their season’s try duck with just a minute on the clock.
Welch found back-row colleague Ally Hogg, and the former Scotland loose forward drew the remaining cover and sent left wing Tom Catterick over for the Falcons’ first try of the Premiership campaign.
All thoughts of a fast start for Gloucester evaporated on the North East breeze.
Then Gloucester lost loosehead prop Dan Murphy to a leg injury, compounding their frustrating start.
Simpson-Daniel and Sione Kalamafoni made impactful breaks, but neither came to scoring fruition.
Falcons centre Adam Powell scythed the line as the home side made easy headway around the ruck, but a stray pass cost the hosts another score.
Newcastle’s start shocked Gloucester, and got inside their heads.
The visitors let the leaking of that early try affect their approach, and they lost their rudder.
Billy Twelvetrees’ uncharacteristic knock-on trying to field a loose May pass and launch a counter-attack summed up the sloppy Gloucester start.
That dropped ball also handed Newcastle their next score.
The Falcons claimed a penalty at the scrum, with Gloucester marched backwards and skywards to boot.
Fly-half Rory Clegg slammed the goal between the uprights.
Freddie Burns quickly responded with a penalty of his own two minutes later,
Will James’ cheap penalty for holding on gifted Newcastle another attacking platform in the Gloucester 22, but the Falcons knocked on when closing in on the Cherry and Whites try line.
Gloucester’s continued inability to defend the driving maul brought Clegg’s second penalty, just shy of the half-hour.
Twelvetrees, Henry Trinder and Matt Kvesic combined to rob Alex Tait and win a penalty to allow Burns an immediate chance to hit back from the tee.
But the England out-half’s strike drifted wide in the wind.
But Gloucester finally profited from measured approach play to register a try of their own.
Simpson-Daniel joined the line to fire a flat pass out to Cook on the right flank.
The full-back set up, Jimmy Cowan tried for the tryline – and Morgan broke blind to send Cook over in the right corner.
Ben Morgan’s barrelling run caused mayhem in the Newcastle 22, but the former Dursley and Cinderford number eight lost the ball in contact.
Gloucester escaped censure when May tapped Cook’s looping pass out of Noah Cato’s reach.
Had the Falcons wing collected, he could well have been in for an intercept score.
Referee Andrew Small handed Newcastle advantage, but the hosts lost possession – and Small did not punish May’s interjection further.
Gloucester turned around trailing 13-8 then, with Clegg’s superior kicking the difference at the interval.
Burns upped the pace straight after the break, immediately probing for openings.
Gloucester won an excellent scrum penalty, kicked to the corner, started the drive – and won another penalty, with Newcastle collapsing.
The visitors went for the lineout again, Morgan drove close from the lineout, then Trinder was tackled high trying to step home.
Gloucester could not force the try, so Burns opted for goal – and landed his second penalty of the match.
Trinder’s smart kick into the right corner forced Hogg to track back, and May and Cook were on to him in a flash.
Gloucester won a penalty from the next ruck, with Matt Thompson not releasing.
Newcastle defended the inevitable maul, but Gloucester kept calm and worked a platform on the right.
Simpson-Daniel joined the line, fed Trinder – and he sent May into the left corner. But just when Gloucester were starting to dream of dominance, a cheap ruck penalty from Yann Thomas surrendered the momentum.
The visitors then killed the ball under their own posts, and replacement fly-half Phil Godman levelled the match at 16 apiece.
Gloucester then generated considered phase play, allowing Burns to slot a tricky penalty.
Nigel Davies’ side then worked another try-scoring chance, only for a feeble pass to bobble to Simpson-Daniel. Had it hit him fast and true, the wily wing would have been in.
Alex Tait’s break sparked Newcastle after a thunderous Trinder tackle. But Catterick could not convert a penalty shot into the wind.
A sloppy lineout left Gloucester’s forwards offside when Robson was forced to box kick under pressure. Godman aimed for the corner, but went dead.
A lovely disguised pass from Burns set Kvesic cantering into the home 22, but the England flanker could not find a team-mate for a finish to profit from Godman’s error.
Gloucester won a penalty after a driven lineout, and Burns converted from the touchline to stretch the lead to 22-16.
Newcastle needed a converted try for the victory, and James Fitzpatrick blitzed into the Gloucester 22.
Cook read his pass and produced a fine try-saving tackle on Godman, with just two minutes on the clock.
Gloucester failed to clear their 22 from the scrum, and Newcastle set a maul from the lineout.
An inevitable penalty handed Newcastle another lineout, with the game’s final play. Newcastle flapped, Gloucester knocked on, then braced themselves for some manful defending.
An endless tight-phase assault on the whitewash ensued, with Hogg, Scott Wilson and Sean Tomes all rebuffed on the cusp of a potential match-winner.
And when Warren Fury was held up over the line, Gloucester had the victory.
Tom Savage (capt)