Humphreys hails fighting spirit after Gloucester close it out
DAVID Humphreys hailed his Cherry and White fighters as they staged an impressive second half surge to put pay to Sharks hopes.
After Billy Twelvetrees came on as a late replacement to grab a decisive fifth try the Gloucester director of rugby said: “We always enjoy a bonus point win. We had to dig in and keep at them because Sale came with a real physical intent, and were clearly fired up.
“It was one of those end of season games where both sides attacked and you lost count of all the chances. But the guys kept fighting and believing they could get on the right end of the scoreline at the right moment.
“We are just trying to finish as high as possible. It’s all about showing a real desire to end the season on the best note.”
Gloucester took an eleventh minute lead when a swift break out saw Tom Marshall swap passes with Jonny May before full-back Marshall beat his last rival to stroll over.
Billy Burns, who kicked 14 points, added the extras but the lead lasted barely a minute as the home side’s defence fell asleep, allowing Sharks to break though and impressive centre Sam James to force his way over.
USA fly-half AJ MacGinty converted and then started a move which saw Sharks move ahead with a try which was just as simple but well executed.
Flanker Ben Curry grabbed the bouncing ball ten yards short of the Cherry and Whites line. He was tackled to the ground but managed to off-load to the supporting Mike Phillips who sauntered across.
Sale lost tight-head Halani Aulika who injured his right arm in a tackle and lost their lead when constant Gloucester pressure told with hooker Richard Hibbard claiming the try at the bottom of a collapsed driving maul.
A Burns penalty inched Gloucester ahead on the stroke of half-time.
Sharks came out with intensity for the start of the second half and two tries in five minutes from replacement prop Kieran Longbottom and then wing Byron McGuigan stunned the home crowd.
The visitors had the bonus point in the bag but their own defence left a lot to be desire as they allowed Burns to off-load to Henry Trinder to cross for a try. Burns converted but MacGinty kicked Sale’s first penalty for a five point lead.
Replacement No.8 Ben Morgan failed to ground the ball when charging over the Sale line but from the resulting penalty the ball was moved left to Marshall who burst over for his second try. Burns converted to edge his side back in front.
Sharks had Ross Harrison sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul and then crumbled.
Twelvetrees entered the fray to huge applause, and soon finished off a blistering Gloucester move with Marshall breaking through the middle. Replacement Ben Vellacott fed Twelvetrees to saunter over for his side’s fifth try.
MacGinty and Burns exchanged late penalties as Gloucester took the honours and Sale had to settle for just the single try bonus point.
Double trouble: Tom Marshall scores the opening try for Gloucester, the first of his pair
Shark attack: Byron McGuigan celebrates scoring for Sale