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A remarkable late Sale fightback comes up just short at Gloucester

By PA
(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

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Gloucester clung on for a 33-32 victory after a remarkable late Sale fightback came up just short in the Gallagher Premiership. An understrength Sale looked down and out as they trailed 33-15 with just over five minutes left. They stunningly scored three late tries, but replacement Tom Curtis was unable to convert the third from the touchline as hosts Gloucester scraped to victory.

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Sale were missing half-dozen of their best side but contested throughout and outscored their opponents five tries to four. Louis Rees-Zammit marked his return from Lions duty by scoring two tries for Gloucester, with Jack Singleton and Ben Morgan also touching down and Adam Hastings adding two conversions, two penalties and a late drop goal.

Raffi Quirke, Arron Reed, Gus Warr, Tommy Taylor and Daniel du Preez scored Sale’s tries with Kieran Wilkinson kicking five points and Curtis two. Sale conceded three penalties in the opening seven minutes, the last of which Hastings kicked to give his side an early lead.

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Gloucester scored their first try five minutes later when Morgan finished off a driving lineout. The penalty count was 7-0 after only 17 minutes and Sale were punished when a well-judged cross-field kick from Ben Meehan was collected by Singleton to score. The conversion from Hastings left Sale 15-0 adrift at the end of a one-sided first quarter.

The home side suffered a blow when lock Andrew Davidson was forced to leave the field with an injury and they soon received a further setback when Sale opened their account with No8 du Preez powering away to send Quirke in under the posts.

However, back came Gloucester to score their third try. Another formidable lineout drive created space for Meehan to feed Harry Elrington, whose overhead pass gave Rees-Zammit a walk-in. Hastings missed the conversion before Wilkinson kicked a straightforward penalty to leave his side trailing 20-10 at the interval. Gloucester dominated the opening period of the second half and were rewarded with a second penalty from Hastings, but against the run of play Luke James seized on a loose ball to set up a try for Reed. Sale were back in contention but Rees-Zammit’s chip and chase saw him collect his second and secure a bonus-point.

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Gloucester looked in total control as Matias Alemanno just failed to finish off his charge down before Hastings knocked over a 30-metre drop-goal, but from nowhere Sale conjured up a remarkable comeback.  Du Preez and replacements Warr and Taylor all scored tries in the last five minutes to provide a gripping finish, but Curtis missed with the last kick of the game.

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