Newcastle Falcons had plenty of pressure but failed to turn enough of it into points, as they fell to a Gallagher Premiership defeat at Gloucester on Saturday.
Newcastle trailed 13-0 at the break but came back strongly, the home side finding a late flourish to take the game away from the visitors.
A promising start from the Falcons saw sustained red-zone pressure with George McGuigan and Pete Lucock hitting some straightening angles, but it was the hosts who opened the scoring on nine minutes when fly-half Lloyd Evans hit a 40-metre penalty from out in front.
The Cherry and Whites were denied a try on 16 minutes when Falcons skipper Will Welch won a crucial turnover at a ruck near his own line, Gloucester having kicked a penalty to the left corner for no return.
It proved to be only a temporary reprieve, with the hosts doubling their lead on 23 minutes when Evans sent over a penalty from 42 metres out in front.
Gloucester extended their advantage to 13 just before the interval when they kicked a penalty to the right corner, prop Val Rapava-Ruskin breaking from the back of a close-range maul for a try converted by Evans.
Their 13-0 lead remained in tact at half-time despite Newcastle again enjoying a few incursions into the home 22 – Nathan Earle, Trevor Davison and Philip van der Walt among the many willing runners.
A third Evans penalty marked the first points of the second half as the Welshman chipped over a simple three-pointer, Newcastle changing their half-backs to try and find a foot-hold in the game as Joel Hodgson and Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti entered the fray.
It seemed to work almost instantly, Hodgson offloading from 10 metres out to centre Ben Stevenson, who raced between the posts for the try, converted by Hodgson.
Another Hodgson pass, this time an inside ball to the onrushing Nathan Earle, opened up the Gloucester defence, only for the attack to fizzle out in phase play, but the momentum looked to be turning the visitors’ way.
That feeling started to solidify when a scrum penalty 30 metres out enabled Hodgson to add three points with the boot, reducing Gloucester’s lead to just six going into the closing 25 minutes.
That was cut to just three points six minutes later with a similarly well-struck penalty from 38 metres – Evans restoring the six-point buffer with a penalty from the right-hand side on 69 minutes.
The Gloucester man was again on the money to put his team nine points in front following a high tackle, and when Jonny May scored from a short-side break on 77 minutes the game was gone.
There was at least the time for a late consolation try, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti scoring his first for the club from a lineout in the left corner after an impressive half-hour on the field.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock (George Wacokecoke, 72), 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon (Joel Hodgson, 45), 9 Louis Schreuder (Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 45); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Kyle Cooper, 61), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 53), 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Philip van der Walt, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns (Josh Basham, 72).
Scorers – Tries: Ben Stevenson, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 2. Penalties: Joel Hodgson 2.
Gloucester Rugby: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit (Santiago Carreras, 61), 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Ben Meehan (Stephen Varney, 61); 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin (Jamal Ford-Robinson, 61), 2 Jack Singleton (Santiago Socino, 61), 3 Kirill Gotovtsev (Fraser Balmain, 56), 4 Freddie Clarke, 5 Matias Alemanno (Andrew Davidson, 65), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 8 Ben Morgan (Jack Clement, 61).
Scorers – Tries: Val Rapava-Ruskin, Jonny May. Conversions: Lloyd Evans 2. Penalties: Lloyd Evans 5.
Referee: Wayne Barnes. Attendance: 10,429.
Woodward, Rees-Zammit, Harris, Atkinson, May, Evans, Meehan, Rapava-Ruskin, Singleton, Gotovtsev, Clarke, Alemanno, Ackermann, Ludlow, Morgan
Replacements Socino, Ford-Robinson, Balmain, Davidson, Clement, Varney, Twelvetrees, Carreras
Brown, Earle, Stevenson, Lucock, Carreras, Connon, Schreuder, Brocklebank, McGuigan, Davison, Peterson, van der Walt, Chick, Welch, Fearns
Replacements Blamire, Cooper, Palframan, Merrick, Basham, Nordli-Kelemeti, Hodgson, Wacokecoke
referee: Wayne Barnes
TMO: Stuart Terheege
assistant: Christophe Ridley
assistant: Neil Chivers