Newcastle Falcons had plenty of possession but struggled to turn it into tries as Gloucester collected all five points from Friday night’s Aviva Premiership encounter at Kingston Park Stadium.
The opening 10 minutes saw plenty of enterprising handling play from both sides and a commendable intention to attack, but a combination of defensive organisation and a failure to find the killer pass saw neither able to break through.
Hard running from Scott Lawson, making his 100th appearance for the Falcons, saw them enjoying some early territory, while aggressive defence from Belisario Agulla helped keep Gloucester at arm’s length.
That was at least until the 16th minute when the visitors broke the deadlock, Henry Purdy stopped short by an ankle-tap from Sinoti Sinoti, but centre Andy Symons collecting the close-range offload to dot down.
Billy Twelvetrees converted, and he did so for a second time when a lineout on Newcastle’s 22 saw a trick front ball freeing Jeremy Thrush for a clear run at the try-line.
The Falcons finally found some penetration from a line-out on the 22 when Simon Hammersley cut through, the full-back hauled down just short of the line. Handed a penalty five metres out the home side opted for a scrum and, despite a period of patient possession, the moment passed without score.
The Cherry and Whites were having no such trouble converting their pressure into points, although their third try owed much to a defensive blip by Newcastle as a kick was allowed to dribble through to the in-goal for Henry Purdy to score.
Twelvetrees fired wide with the conversion, and with the very last play of the half the Falcons finally found a cutting edge when a penalty was kicked to the right corner for Mark Wilson to rumble over from the driving maul. Joel Hodgson converted, his side trailing 19-7 at the break.
Gloucester extended their lead by three in the opening minute of the second half via a simple penalty from Twelvetrees as Newcastle failed to deal with the kick-off, the Falcons firing back with a series of phases which ended five metres short as the visitors dug in.
Replacement fly-half Toby Flood entered the fray for the closing 35 minutes as Newcastle searched for a way through, the visitors reduced to 14 men as Twelvetrees saw yellow on 50 minutes.
Presented with a pair of close-range lineouts the home side just couldn’t convert, Kyle Cooper adding go-forward from the bench but Newcastle remaining frustrated despite their welter of attacking ball.
The Cherry and Whites found a bonus-point try on 68 minutes when Gareth Denman crossed from a pick-and-go in the left corner, and despite the Falcons having plenty of ball in the closing period they just could not find the required penetration on a disappointing evening.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Belisario Agulla (Chris Harris, 58), 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson (Toby Flood, 46), 9 Sam Stuart (Ruaridh Dawson, 65); 1 Rob Vickers (Sami Mavinga, 69), 2 Scott Lawson (Kyle Cooper, 52), 3 Jon Welsh (Scott Wilson, 69), 4 Will Witty, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Nili Latu (Gary Graham, 65).
Falcons scorers - Tries: Mark Wilson. Conversions: Joel Hodgson.
Gloucester Rugby: 15 Tom Hudson, 14 Henry Purdy, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (Lloyd Evans, 76), 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Burns (Mark Atkinson, 62), 9 Willi Heinz (captain, Ben Vellacott, 71); 1 Josh Hohneck (Paddy McAllister, 61), 2 James Hanson (Richard Hibbard, 33), 3 John Afoa (Gareth Denman, 65), 4 Tom Savage, 5 Jeremy Thrush (Ed Slater, 58), 6 Jake Polledri, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 8 Ruan Ackermann (Freddie Clarke, 70).
Gloucester scorers - Tries: Andy Symons, Jeremy Thrush, Henry Purdy, Gareth Denman. Conversions: Billy Twelvetrees 3. Penalties: Billy Twelvetrees.
Referee: JP Doyle. Attendance: 6,778.
Hammersley, Tait, Agulla, Socino, Sinoti, Hodgson, Stuart, Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Witty, Robinson, Wilson, Welch, Latu
Replacements Cooper, Mavinga, Wilson, Green, Graham, Dawson, Flood, Harris
Hudson, Purdy, Symons, Twelvetrees, Thorley, Burns, Heinz, Hohneck, Hanson, Afoa, Savage, Thrush, Polledri, Ludlow, Ackermann
Replacements Hibbard, McAllister, Denman, Slater, Clarke, Vellacott, Evans, Atkinson
referee: JP Doyle
assistant: Tim Wigglesworth
assistant: Peter Allan
TMO: Claire Hodnett