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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 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com