Nigel Davies has paid tribute to Gloucester’s fighting spirit after they survived a thrilling finale to edge past Exeter Chiefs.
Gareth Steenson had the opportunity to hand the hosts a last-gasp, one-point win following Don Armand’s late try.
But the Exeter fly-half, who put the boot to the Cherry and Whites last season, pushed his conversion wide to hand Gloucester the victory.
Davies’ side fought tooth and nail throughout the scrappy encounter and were reduced to 13-men in the closing stages following a pair of yellow cards to Sila Puafisi and Sione Kalamafoni.
And while he admits his side’s indiscipline at the death was unacceptable, he was delighted with the never say die attitude.
Davies said: “We hung on but overall I felt we were the better team, we deserved that win and I was pleased with the effort and commitment from my players.
“We probably spurned a couple of chances which made it difficult for us to defend at the end but the energy and enthusiasm the guys showed at the death was a credit to them.
“Some of the discipline was unacceptable but we’ve won the game and we have to build on that and use the confidence and momentum to move forward.”
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter refused to blame Steenson for Gloucester’s victory and questioned whether his side should have been awarded a penalty try following Kalamafoni’s sin-binning.
The Tongan flanker was adjudged to have pulled down an Exeter driving lineout rumbling towards the try-line and was given his marching orders with just three seconds of regular time left on the clock.
A penalty try would have given Steenson an easier shot at goal than the one he had for Armand’s try two minutes later.
Davies agreed Baxter had a point but insists Gloucester were on the rough side of several decisions and deserved the win which lifts them to eighth in the Aviva Premiership table.
He said: “It’s a fair opinion but I also thought there were some real dubious calls, which allowed them to get in that position in the first place.
“I was frustrated with a lot of calls but ultimately justice was done because we got the win.
“We targeted this as a key game for our season and can help turn things around. Exeter are a great side, they’ve had a lot of plaudits and rightly so but we’re now sitting above them in the league.
“We’ve had a tough season, we’re nowhere near where we would have liked to have been but we’re still battling.
“All we can do is go out and win the remaining games we have left to give us a chance of finishing in a qualifying spot for Europe’s top competition.”
Gloucester face London Wasps in their next two encounters, first an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final on Sunday and then in league action the following week.
There are now just three points separating the two sides and Davies will take great confidence from the performance of the pack at Sandy Park.
The back-row battled heroically, Elliott Stooke like a man possessed and the set-piece, that has creaked so much this season, was dominant.
Davies added: “Wasps are a good side, they play a decent brand of rugby but when we played them last they scored two breakaway tries which were the difference, we were largely in control of that game.
“But winning breads momentum and confidence and we are looking forward to next weekend.
“We’ve taken a lot of stick for our scrum but they showed what they’re capable of. We were the dominant side against a very good Exeter scrum.
“There’s a number of reasons for that and there was a bit of momentum with Trevor coming in. He’s looked and things and tweaked things a bit differently and the boys have used that and taken it into games.
“There was a lot of weight coming through from the second-row and I thought Stookey had a phenomenal game up against a top class player in Dean Mumm .
“He’s a young lock who is developing exceptionally well. He’s had a big opportunity this year and has shown his ability. He will grow and become better and better.”