Gloucester escaped the Premiership new-boys with a nervy 31-25 victory over London Welsh following a frantic finish at Kassam Stadium.
Gloucester escaped the Premiership new-boys with a 31-25 victory over London Welsh after a frantic finish at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday.
Back-to-back victories over Exeter and Sale had injected a little confidence into the Exiles' hopes of consolidation at Premiership level, but a tough Gloucester display ensured no hat-trick win.
After falling behind to an early Freddie Burns penalty, Welsh levelled things up with a penalty of their own through Gordon Ross, but a second from Burns followed by a try created by the goal-kicker's quick thinking, and finished by Shane Monahan, put them in a commanding position.
Welsh penned the visitors back through a second Ross penalty, but a close range surge from Tom Savage brought about a second try for Gloucester, converted by Burns, and, though a third Ross penalty on 32 minutes reduced the deficit, the visitors held a handsome 18-6 lead at the interval.
A penalty early in the second half from Ross reduced Gloucester's advantage to nine, but Billy Twelvetrees restored the 12-point cushion with another three-pointer for the visitors.
But Welsh then gave themselves an excellent opportunity to get something from the game with a burst of 13 points in eight minutes. First, Ross struck a penalty goal on 56 minutes, and, after Franck Montanella's converted try on the hour had put Welsh two points in front, yet another Ross penalty on 64 minutes meant the hosts held an improbable five-point lead.
The loss of their advantage sprung the Cherry and Whites into life, however, with Burns' penalty reducing the arrears, before the visitors retook the lead thanks to a short-range try from Shaun Knight on 72 minutes, converted by young number ten Burns.
This time there was to be no response from Welsh, and the match finished with Gloucester controlling the play, as they turned their six-advantage into a hard-earned victory.
For London Welsh:
Pen: Ross 6
Tries: Monahan, Savage, Knight
Con: Burns 2
Pen: Burns 3, Twelvetrees
London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Hudson Tonga'uiha, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (capt), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Frank Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Kirill Kulemin, Alfie To'oala, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Phil MacKenzie.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Jim Hamilton (capt), 4 Tom Savage, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Tommaso d'Apice, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Kevin Stewart
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters