Humphreys hails fight­ing spirit af­ter Glouces­ter close it out

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By GARY FITZGER­ALD

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.

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Dou­ble trou­ble: Tom Mar­shall scores the open­ing try for Glouces­ter, the first of his pair

Shark at­tack: By­ron McGuigan cel­e­brates scor­ing for Sale

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