Aviva Premiership: Gloucester pile on the misery for London Welsh
London Welsh remain five points adrift at the foot of the table after slipping to a 15-14 defeat at Gloucester.
Last Updated: 24/03/13 7:18am
The Exiles led 14-6 with less than a quarter of the game remaining, but Freddie Burns added three penalties to the two he kicked in the first half to edge Gloucester to victory.
Wing Phil MacKenzie's 52nd-minute try and three penalties by fly-half Gordon Ross put Premiership basement club London Welsh on the verge of only their fifth league win this season.
The Exiles could hardly have given any more, yet Gloucester prevailed despite being off-colour in most key areas, as Burns' boot decided a dire contest.
Burns and Ross kicked early penalties, but the initial exchanges were littered by mistakes with neither team able to put together a meaningful passage of play.
A dreadful first half ended with Ross and Burns kicking further penalties, making it 6-6 before the teams trooped off.
Gloucester were temporarily reduced to 14 men after 43 minutes when wing Jonny May was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on inside his own 22, and Ross completed his penalty hat-trick with the resulting kick.
London Welsh continued to grow in confidence, and a superb midfield break by wing Seb Stegmann almost produced the opening try after Burns had rifled a penalty chance wide.
The visitors' back row ball carriers - notably number eight Daniel Browne - also began making headway, and Gloucester's defence was finally breached with May still off.
Slick midfield passing proved enough to unlock the Gloucester defence, and when prop James Tideswell was tackled just short of the line, MacKenzie finished off.
Burns' conversion attempt hit the post, but London Welsh were good value for their 14-6 advantage in front of a stunned Gloucester crowd.
Ross should have extended London Welsh's lead after 59 minutes, but he sent an angled penalty chance wide, which meant Gloucester remained within striking distance entering the final quarter.
Burns then narrowed the gap with his third successful penalty before another strike eight minutes later set up a fraught finale, with London Welsh aiming to hang on.
But the visitors could not hold out, and when Burns inched Gloucester ahead there was no way back for a battling, resilient London Welsh outfit.