Premiership: Gloucester 16-9 Exeter Chiefs

By Brendon MitchellBBC Sport
Luke Cowan-Dickie
Exeter Chiefs still need two more points to be sure of a Premiership play-off spot for the first time
Gloucester (0) 16
Try: Thorley Con: Laidlaw Pens: Laidlaw 3
Exeter Chiefs (0) 9
Pens: Steenson 3

Gloucester edged out Exeter to keep their top-six hopes alive and prevent the Chiefs from sealing a Premiership play-off place for the first time.

Exeter, promoted from the Championship in 2010, remain second behind Saracens.

Following a pointless first half - the first in the top flight since 2009 - the match came to life with wing Ollie Thorley's debut try for the hosts and two Gareth Steenson penalties.

Scotland's Greig Laidlaw landed three kicks to secure victory for Gloucester.

The Cherry and Whites, who had lost each of their previous five matches, remain eighth but closed the gap on sixth-placed Harlequins.

Exeter are now 10 points above Leicester in fourth and 14 points ahead of Northampton in fifth, prior to the East Midlands derby between the two teams on Saturday.

Rob Baxter's side, whose best-ever finish was the fifth place they managed last season, could still have their spot in the top four confirmed this weekend if Saints fail to win at Franklin's Gardens.

In difficult conditions for flowing rugby at Kingsholm, Exeter never looked likely to add to their seven try bonus points this season.

Steenson's accuracy from the tee kept the Chiefs in touch after Thorley crossed for the game's only try following Tom Savage's superb offload.

But scrum-half Laidlaw was equally immaculate with his boot to secure Gloucester's first Premiership win since 5 March.

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

"There was just an overwhelming sense of relief at the final whistle, it was an incredible atmosphere - the best atmosphere that there's been all season - and for me it just sums up the passionate nature.

"From the depths of despair of the final whistle last week, one week later they're back, so I'm delighted for the supporters.

"But inside the group there's been a lot of hurt, frustration and there's been a lot of justified criticism.

"The only way you can respond to that is by going out and performing and I thought we were back to the level we expect from this team."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:

"We did pretty well for the whole of the game, but we were massively undone by a period of ill-discipline under relatively little pressure, which is the thing that has annoyed me.

"In a game like today, it was almost certainly going to come down to penalty shots at goal. Gloucester got them and we didn't.

"It is difficult to break it down straight after the game, but when we needed to show that bit more discipline and composure we didn't.

"Gloucester won two or three battles tonight that were important."

Gloucester: Marshall; Cook, Trinder, Twelvetrees, Thorley; Hook, Laidlaw (capt); Thomas, Hibbard, Afoa, Savage, Thrush, Moriarty, Kvesic, Morgan.

Replacements: Dawidiuk, Wood, Doran-Jones, Stooke, Rowan, Braley, Creed, Heinz.

Exeter: Turner; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Armand, Salvi, Waldrom.

Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Rimmer, Welch, Ewers, Lewis, Campagnaro, Short.

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