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Bristol top after Strange day
Jason Strange landed a drop goal with the final kick of the game to put Bristol top of the Guinness Premiership courtesy of a 14-12 victory against Gloucester.
The West Country rivals entered the match level on points and served up feisty encounter in difficult rainswept conditions at the Memorial Stadium.
Willie Walker kicked all of the visitors' points and appeared to have won them the game when he landed his fourth penalty in the 76th minute to put Gloucester 12-11 ahead - the first time they had led.
That would have been rough justice on Bristol, whose forwards had controlled the game, and scored its only try through hooker Mark Regan.
In the end they did have the last word, setting up the field position that allowed replacement fly-half Strange to make his match-winning intervention.
The only try of the match arrived on five minutes after Bristol scrum-half Brian O'Riordan's kick exposed an out of position Gloucester defence.
After working the ball through several more phases, the hosts went to the blind side and unleashed Regan [pictured], who forced his way over in the left-corner from close range.
Kiwi fly-half David Hill missed the touchline conversion, but did extend his side's lead to 8-0 with a 14th-minute penalty after Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam was penalised for entering at the side of a ruck.
Gloucester enjoyed their first period of sustained possession mid-way through the half, moving the ball upfield through a series of uncomplicated rucks, and eventually earning a penalty that Walker slotted to get them on the board.
The hosts responded with a Hill drop goal on their next foray to reassert an eight-point advantage.
But the home side's tactics while defending rucks had drawn referee Rob Debney's ire throughout the opening half, and he finally lost patience in the 35th minute when centre Rob Higgitt was dispatched for 10 minutes in the sin bin after killing the ball.
Gloucester took advantage of the extra man to reduce their deficit to 11-9 by half-time courtesy of two Walker penalties, while Bristol suffered a further setback as loosehead prop David Hilton had to be replaced by Alex Clarke after receiving a knee in the back from opposite number Nick Wood.
It was Bristol who came out firing after the interval, Hill narrowly missing with a penalty attempt, before No.8 Daniel Ward-Smith was prominent in an end-to-end move that finished with visiting full-back Olly Morgan having to scramble back and touch down behind his own line.
The worsening conditions made for a forward-dominated contest, but the hosts' pack made up for the lack of expansive rugby with a controlled display.
They were tested to the full during a series of scrums close to their own line during the second half, eventually earning a penalty that allowed Hill to use his boot to clear the danger.
After Hill picked up an injury and had been replaced by Strange for the final 15 minutes, Bristol again found themselves pinned deep into their own half.
And as the game entered the final five minutes, Gloucester lock Alex Brown's soaring take in the lineout set up a rolling maul that was brought down using foul means.
Walker stepped up to stroke his fourth penalty from wide on the right and put his side 14-12 ahead with four minutes left on the clock.
But it was not enough, as Bristol's forwards went straight onto the attack at the other end, creating the time and space that allowed Strange to have the final say with the last kick of the game.
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|Friday 14th November|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|19:45||Northampton vs Exeter|
|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Sale vs London Irish|
|17:00||Bath vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 16th November|
|13:00||Leicester vs Saracens|
|15:15||Wasps vs London Welsh|
|Friday 21st November|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Sale|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|15:00||London Irish vs Bath|
|15:00||Exeter vs Wasps|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|13:00||Saracens vs Northampton|
|15:15||London Welsh vs Leicester|
|Friday 28th November|
|19:45||Bath vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 29th November|
|15:00||Leicester vs Wasps|
|16:30||Exeter vs Saracens|
|Sunday 30th November|
|13:00||London Irish vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Northampton|
|15:15||Newcastle vs Sale|
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:00||Sale vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Bath|
|15:00||Northampton vs Leicester|
|15:00||Saracens vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 12th October|
|Wasps 29 - 22 Bath|
|Saturday 11th October|
|Northampton 43 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Saracens 28 - 21 Gloucester|
|Exeter 44 - 24 London Irish|
|London Welsh 3 - 23 Newcastle|
|Friday 10th October|
|Leicester 22 - 16 Harlequins|
|Sunday 5th October|
|Newcastle 29 - 24 Exeter|
|Sale 25 - 14 Wasps|
|Saturday 4th October|
|Gloucester 33 - 16 Leicester|
|Harlequins 52 - 0 London Welsh|
|London Irish 12 - 19 Northampton|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Bath 21 - 11 Saracens|
|Sunday 28th September|
|Wasps 35 - 18 Newcastle|
|Exeter 36 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saturday 27th September|
|Northampton 31 - 24 Bath|
|Leicester 19 - 22 London Irish|
|Saracens 40 - 19 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 26th September|
|London Welsh 10 - 46 Gloucester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|Newcastle 10 - 35 Northampton|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Bath 45 - 0 Leicester|
|Harlequins 26 - 23 Wasps|
|London Irish 32 - 36 Saracens|
|Sale 46 - 8 London Welsh|
|Friday 19th September|
|Gloucester 22 - 25 Exeter|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Newcastle 18 - 20 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com