Gloucester vs Sale Sharks match report: Gloucester reward Humphreys’ show of faith

Gloucester 34 Sale Sharks 27: Cherry and Whites respond from opening-day drubbing to record impressive comeback win

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Gloucester received a standing ovation when they trotted out which, for a team that conceded fifty points a week earlier, was generous. They received another when they finished but, in between, the Kingsholm faithful were gnawing their knuckles.

When they were trailing 17-3 after 34 minutes, it was hard to see Gloucester opening their Premiership account for the season. At that stage, Sale had scored three tries and duly registered their bonus-point try but by then, only four minutes remained and the match had been stood on its head.

If it was the goal-kicking of Greig Laidlaw which kept Gloucester in contention initially, it was the improved accuracy of their set pieces which earned them the platform for victory. Penalised at the first scrum, losing three line-outs in the first quarter was not what their coaches wished to see when they named the same starting XV which lost 53-6 at Northampton.

Nor was that a simple decision, given that Gloucester’s second string played well (also against Northampton) last Monday. But it was vindicated in a second half when a try by Jonny May (pictured) levelled matters at 17-17 and his colleagues seemed re-energised; in particular they tore into the breakdowns, Tom Savage played magnificently as a tight-loose forward and Gloucester recovered their poise.


David Humphreys, Gloucester’s director of rugby, attributed the indifferent start in part to nerves and the pressure of playing the first home game of the season. “Every time we got the ball we turned it over but, after the interval, we were able to create pressure on the scoreboard, there was more discipline on and off the ball,” he said. “Good players will always be good players but, in terms of developing partnerships, that takes time.”

Injuries to Jacob Rowan (knee) and Henry Trinder (shoulder) may hinder that development but success will assist the process. Not that Gloucester could do much about Danny Cipriani in the first half:  he had a hand or foot in Sale’s first three tries and, since he snapped up a loose ball to veer in for the fourth, could be said to have had a distinct influence.

His grub kick sat up nicely for Tom Arscott, his chip and catch created space for Chris Cusiter to finish and Cipriani’s speed of thought at a tapped penalty allowed Luke McLean to sprint over. But Laidlaw kept whittling away and when Trinder stabbed through a grubber, May was first to the touchdown.

A penalty by Cipriani recovered the lead for Sale but only briefly. Gloucester’s attack swept right then left for James Hook to slide through a gap, hand on to May and Rob Cook scored at the corner despite Tom Brady’s tackle. When Gloucester’s pack drove over to register a penalty try, thoughts rose of a home bonus point but, instead, Cipriani’s powerful finish sent Sale back to Manchester relatively happy with two points.


Gloucester: R Cook; C Sharples, H Trinder (M Atkinson, 76), B Twelvetrees (captain), J May; J Hook, G Laidlaw; D Murphy (Y Thomas, 70), R Hibbard (D Dawidiuk, 68), J Afoa (S Puafisi, 54), T Savage, J Hudson (T Palmer, 53), S Kalamafoni, J Rowan (R Moriarty, 8), B Morgan.

Sale Sharks: L McLean; T Brady (A Forsyth, 68), W Addison (Forsyth 64-68), M Jennings, T Arscott; D Cipriani, C Cusiter (W Cliff, 64); R Harrison (A de Marchi, 65), S Mamukashvili (C Neild, 79), V Cobilas (E Lewis Roberts, 44), N Hines (M Lund, 8), J Mills (A Ostrikov, 65), M Paterson, D Seymour (captain), M Easter.

Referee: G Garner (Warwickshire).