FREDDIE Burns of Gloucester broke London Welsh hearts with a penalty five minutes from time that denied the Aviva Premiership relegation favourites a famous win.
Wing Phil MacKenzie’s 52nd-minute try and three penalties by former Scotland fly-half Gordon Ross put Premiership basement club London Welsh on the verge of only their fifth league win this season.
It would have closed the gap to two points on Sale Sharks – 14-13 conquerors of Bath on Friday night – but Gloucester fly-half Burns had other ideas.
Although the England international missed four shots at goal, he booted five others for a 15-14 win that keeps Gloucester’s title play-off hopes alive hopes.
London Welsh, in contrast, are now five points behind Sale with four games left, although that could change early next week.
Welsh have appealed a five-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player – scrum-half Tyson Keats – in the Premiership this season, and the result of their appeal hearing is expected to be made public within days.
They need it to work in their favour, given that their remaining Premiership fixtures are away against Bath and London Irish, plus home appointments with Northampton and Worcester.
London Irish took another major step towards Aviva Premiership survival with a comfortable 26-6 victory over a disappointing Worcester at the Madejski Stadium.
With this win, Irish have at present a ten-point cushion over London Welsh and a five-point lead over 11th-placed Sale, with Irish still having to play those two clubs at home in their remaining four fixtures.
Tries from Matt Garvey and Halani Aulika, backed up by two Tom Homer penalties, put the hosts in control with a 16-6 lead at half-time.
Worcester replied with two penalties from Andy Goode but after the break Chris Hala’ufia’s try and a conversion and penalty from Homer sealed the win to cheer the 19,523 crowd at the club’s annual St Patrick’s Day celebration.