Last-gasp Ack­er­mann keeps Glos hopes alive

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - By ROGER PANT­ING

GLOUCES­TER scored 21 points in the last nine min­utes to keep their Pre­mier­ship play-off hopes alive.

Ruan Ack­er­mann’s try from a line-out drive was the last play of the game and it se­cured a vi­tal bonus point, which moves Glouces­ter up to sixth, three points adrift of fourth placed New­cas­tle with only two games re­main­ing.

Glouces­ter head coach, Jo­han Ack­er­mann said: “The com­pe­ti­tion is so tight and ev­ery point is vi­tal so that fi­nal try was mas­sive, but we were our own worst en­e­mies by mak­ing 18 er­rors and giv­ing away 12 penal­ties.”

Such was Glouces­ter’s dom­i­nance that it was un­fath­omable that Quins could re­main in con­tention for so long, but the home side were chaotic and would need to play a whole lot bet­ter to beat Sara­cens and Ex­eter should they reach the semi-fi­nal.

How­ever, their com­bat­ive pack were in con­trol through­out with John Afoa and Ed Slater at the fore­front of their ef­forts which en­abled Ja­son Wood­ward and Mark Atkin­son to dis­play their tal­ent.

Wood­ward’s elu­sive run­ning reg­u­larly tested the Quins de­fence while two well-judged passes from Atkin­son were the ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to two tries.

Af­ter last week’s cat­a­strophic per­for­mance against Lon­don Ir­ish, Quins showed greater com­mit­ment but they lacked con­fi­dence and co­he­sion and surely can’t wait for their sea­son to end.

There were a few pos­i­tives for them with the in­de­fati­ga­ble Chris Rob­shaw re­fus­ing to throw in the towel and Joe Marchant show­ing neat touches in at­tack, but their big guns, Danny Care, Mike Brown and Jamie Roberts all failed to fire.

Billy Twel­ve­trees and Mar­cus Smith ex­changed early penal­ties be­fore Glouces­ter scored an ex­cel­lent open­ing try. On half-way, a well-timed pass from Atkin­son sent Twel­ve­trees through a huge gap be­fore Bra­ley was on hand to race 25m to the line.

Twel­ve­trees con­verted be­fore the vis­i­tors suf­fered a fur­ther set­back when Jack Clif­ford was helped off with a leg in­jury.

Joe Mar­ler was briefly ab­sent but passed a head in­jury assess­ment to re­turn but it didn’t stop Glouces­ter dom­i­nat­ing the half in which they had nearly 65 per cent of both pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory.

How­ever, el­e­men­tary er­rors pre­vented them from cap­i­tal­is­ing and the only ad­di­tions to the score­board were penal­ties, two from Smith and one from Twel­ve­trees, to leave Glouces­ter with a 13-9 half-time lead.

The sec­ond half be­gan with both full-backs mak­ing 50m runs. First Wood­ward evaded a num­ber of op­po­nents be­fore Glouces­ter sur­ren­dered pos­ses­sion at a ruck for Brown to seize his chance and set off for the try-line only for Billy Burns to haul him down.

Twel­ve­trees ex­tended the lead with his third penalty as the game be­came in­creas­ingly fre­netic un­til Glouces­ter’s late burst fi­nally killed off Quins.

Henry Trinder made the run­ning for Wood­ward’s try be­fore Jake Polledri walked through a tir­ing de­fence and then there was just time for Ack­er­mann’s cru­cial ef­fort.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Stream­lined: Ja­son Wood­ward dives over for Glouces­ter

Bar­rier: Quins stop a Ben Mor­gan break

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