Richards seals thrilling win

Gloucester 27 Newcastle 20

There was a great deal of decent rugby from both sides. Gloucester had the edge, though, not least the psychological one, given that Newcastle have not won at Kingsholm since they won the title in 1998.

Gloucester looked the more entertaining team, although they did fall foul of the referee, Ashley Rowden, at critical times. Credit also has to be given to Newcastle for their sterling defence.

The blustery autumn wind blew not only Ludovic Mercier off course with his goal-kicking, but also the Falcons' Jonny Wilkinson. There were the odd flurries of temper, and an attempted stiff-arm tackle by Robbie Morris earned the Newcastle prop 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

The sides were a try apiece at that point - Newcastle's a fine solo burst from the flanker Cory Harris, Gloucester's the culmination of some great work by their pack, which led to the No 8 James Forrester plunging over. But Mercier nosed the home side ahead with a penalty at the third attempt.

The thunderous first half was matched, if not bettered, by the second, which saw Wilkinson converting his own try under the posts after a stunning move. Newcastle had fallen further behind after Mercier landed a 55-metre penalty.

Gloucester's counter-attack to the Newcastle try was just as sizzling, although they needed two attempts to get over the line. The first time Wilkinson managed to insinuate himself between the ball and the ground to deny Peter Richards, but moments later the replacement Gloucester No 9 burrowed through to score.

Further penalties were exchanged, but though Newcastle had closed the gap, Gloucester had closed ranks, and the supporters ignored the rain as they sang their heroes home.

Gloucester: O Morgan; M Foster, J Simpson-Daniel, A Allen (T Fanolua, 63), R Thirlby; L Mercier (B Davies, 40-41), H Thomas (P Richards, 56); P Collazo, J Parkes (R Elloway, 80), T Sigley (G Powell, 47), Q Davids (M Cornwell, 63), A Eustace, P Buxton (capt; A Balding, 43-50), A Hazell, J Forrester (A Balding, 56).

Newcastle: M Burke; T May (J Shaw, 66), M Tait, T Flood, J Hoyle; J Wilkinson (capt), J Grindal; M Ward, M Thompson, R Morris (T Paoletti, 79), L Gross (J Smithson, 61), A Buist, M McCarthy (T Paoletti, 40-45), C Harris, O Finegan.

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).

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