Falcons left to rue one that gets away at the death at Kingsholm
For the second season in succession Newcastle Falcons took a pair of bonus points away from Kingsholm, Billy Burns stealing a dramatic win for the home side with a try in added time.
The fly-half's touch-down was the ninth try on a pulsating afternoon of running rugby, but came as a devastating blow to a Falcons side who had led 40-23 with just 13 minutes to play.
The visitors had been 27-13 up at the interval after three well-worked tries, Juan Pablo Socino's energetic counter-rucking getting them on the front foot.
Kane Thompson and Josh Furno's steady stream of line-out ball and a power-packed scrummage ensured front-foot possession for the backs, who made good early use of it.
Chris Harris might have left the field injured on the half-hour but the centre had already made one try by then, his combination with Sinoti Sinoti cutting open the Cherry and Whites' back line.
Mark Wilson was the beneficiary as the flanker collected an inside pass to score in the left corner, Rory Clegg guiding the conversion between the uprights.
The lead stood at 14 by the quarter mark when yet more ambitious counter-attacking delivered a try from long range, Ally Hogg the creator this time as the returning No 8 hit a super line at first receiver.
The athletic Scot raced clear of the retreating defence, drawing the last man to give Sinoti a clear run at the sticks.
Clegg again added the extras, Gloucester pulling themselves into the game with 10 points in four minutes.
The first three of those came when a line-out infringement on the visitors' 22 handed Burns a simple shot at goal.
Their opening try was a typically fleeting counter, a turnover inside their own half seeing the ball flung left to Burns. His line-break sucked in the last man as Billy Twelvetrees collected the simple pass, the captain dotting the ball down for Burns to convert.
Clegg and Burns traded a further penalty apiece as Newcastle's set-piece dominance handed them the impetus, gaining the nudge in the scrum and scoring from a close-range line-out in the right corner.
Ex-Gloucester man Scott Lawson was the man to secure it, the veteran Scot steering a textbook rolling maul over the whitewash for Clegg to add the touchline conversion.
The fly-half had the last say of the half when his low-struck penalty from the half-way line put the Falcons 14 points ahead.
And if anyone thought the pace of the scoring was about to slow down – think again.
Burns and Clegg exchanged another penalty each, the visitors opening up the field through Adam Powell's footwork and some slick offloading.
Clegg's second penalty of the half had his side 16 to the good when the Cherry and Whites applied hands in the ruck, the final 16 minutes of the match delivering five tries as the 12,516 inside Kingsholm lapped up the attacking offering.
The first of those went to home scrum-half Dan Robson, tapping and going from a penalty in the shadow of the posts.
Newcastle responded with their bonus-point score, Kane Thompson showing deft footballing skills with a well-weighted grubber to the right corner which ultimately led to a try for second-row comrade Josh Furno.
Alex Tait had a hand in that after keeping the ball alive, Clegg's touchline conversion giving the visitors what they hoped would prove an unassailable lead.
Those aspirations were dashed as the Cherry and Whites increased the tempo in the 13 minutes which remained, Twelvetrees crossing for his second try down the right.
Henry Purdy stepped inside for their fourth of the game to get them within three points, Newcastle fiercely defending their own line in a late onslaught.
The weight of pressure proved just too much with the clock down to zero, repeated phases near the posts seeing the ball worked left to Burns for a try in the corner.
The missed conversion mattered not as his side sat two up on the final whistle, Newcastle once again left to ponder what might have been.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: S Hammersley, A Tait, C Harris (A Powell, 34), JP Socino, S Sinoti, R Clegg, R Tipuna (T Takulua, 73); R Vickers (E Fry, 63), S Lawson (G McGuigan, 73), K Brookes (JP Orlandi, 73), J Furno, K Thompson, M Wilson, W Welch (captain), A Hogg (S Robinson, 31).
Falcons scorers – Tries: M Wilson, S Sinoti, S Lawson, J Furno. Conversions: R Clegg 4. Penalties: R Clegg 4.
GLOUCESTER: C Sharples, J May (J Hook, 9), B Macken (B Meakes, 53), B Twelvetrees (captain), H Purdy, B Burns, D Robson (G Laidlaw, 66); Y Thomas (D Murphy, 40, Y Thomas, 41)), D Dawidiuk (R Hibbard, 40), S Puafisi (J Afoa, 40), E Stooke (T Savage, 40), M Galarza, R Moriarty, M Kvesic, S Kalamafoni (G Evans, 24).
Gloucester scorers – Tries: B Twelvetrees 2, D Robson, H Purdy, B Burns. Conversions: B Burns 4. Penalties: B Burns 3.
Referee: I Tempest. Attendance: 12,516.