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Gloucester edge Chiefs in thriller

Gareth Steenson hit the post with a late conversion for Exeter Chiefs as they slipped to a 26-25 defeat to Gloucester in their 100th Aviva Premiership match.

Steenson, who had earlier kicked over an eight-point haul, hit the near upright from the touchline after Thomas Waldrom's try eight minutes from time as the Chiefs slumped to a third straight loss.

It capped off a dramatic five-try second half that was in stark contrast to a first period that Gloucester edged 6-0 thanks to Greig Laidlaw's boot.

The hosts struck first with a quickfire double from Jack Nowell and Matt Jess, but Tom Savage and England number eight Ben Morgan dotted down for the Cherry and Whites to make it 26-20 with 12 minutes remaining, before the Chiefs fell agonisingly short.

Exeter welcomed Gloucester to Sandy Park as they celebrated their centenary of matches in the English top flight - ironically the visitors were the opponents in their first match back in September 2010.

But there was little to celebrated in the opening 40 minutes, which was devoid of any real tryscoring opportunities.

Gloucester struck early through scrum-half Laidlaw's 40-metre penalty but the Chiefs looked to have replied quickly as Henry Slade put a grubber kick though only for Jess to knock-on as he slid over the line.

Exeter came close to the opposition line, having kicked penalties to the corner, but squandered these opportunities allowing the visitors to clear up field, although Gloucester made little ground once they had crossed halfway.

Just after the midway point of the half Gloucester were penalised for dropping the scrum on their own 22 and Laidlaw added another three points. The closing minutes of the half again saw the Chiefs mounting attacks but their downfall was basic errors.

The Chiefs had an early opportunity in the second period to reduce the arrears but Gareth Steenson's 38-metre penalty attempt drifted wide of the uprights. Gloucester countered immediately, with the referee playing advantage, and Billy Twelvetrees kicked a long-range drop goal.

Ten minutes into the half and the Chiefs finally got on the scoreboard with two tries in as many minutes. First Nowell shrugged off three half tackles to cross the whitewash and then Jess completed an 80-metres dash for the second.

Steenson added both conversions as Chiefs moved ahead for the first time in the game, but Savage levelled the scores with a try after Steenson's kick was charged down. Laidlaw added the conversion and a penalty, but Exeter continued to keep pace with a pair of Steenson penalties.

Gloucester then capitalised on another Exeter error with Morgan going over from close range and Laidlaw adding the extras as the visitors moved six points clear heading into the final 10 minutes

The Devon side came back with a Waldrom try, after consulting the TMO, but Steenson's touchline conversion hit the near upright as the Chiefs fell agonisingly short.

The victory for Gloucester takes them up to eighth place in the Aviva Premiership table while the Chiefs remain in the play-off places ahead of Sunday's round of matches.


From Belfast Telegraph