Gloucester 27-14 London Irish: Much improved second half display gives the Cherry and Whites a perfect start to 2016
Matt Kvesic’s and Billy Burns second half scores plus 17 points from James Hook saw Gloucester come from behind to claim a 27-14 win against London Irish
The Exiles had an unexpected 14-6 lead at half-time thanks to scores from Ciaran Hearn and Alex Lewington
Lewington was sent to the sin bin for the Exiles after the break
Two tries in five second-half minutes saw Gloucester come from behind to start 2016 with a win as they edged out London Irish 27-14 in front of a packed-out crowd at Kingsholm on Saturday.
The full-time score was satisfactory, but boy did the Exiles make Gloucester work for it.
London Irish, who hadn’t managed a single point in their opening six games before overcoming Saints last weekend, showed off their attacking flair in the opening 40 as Ciaran Hearn and Alex Lewington’s tries, converted by Chris Noakes gave the visitors an unexpected 14-6 lead at the break.
But two second-half penalties from Hook, and tries from Matt Kvesic and Billy Burns completed the turnaround as the Cherry and Whites denied Irish a second consecutive win.
With the jam-packed shed in fine voice, James Hook got the game underway for Gloucester before after just three minutes the fly-half knocked over his first penalty of the afternoon, 3-0.
Four minutes later though the Exiles were in front as Kearn broke through Bill Meakes tackle from on the five-metre line to go over between the posts. Noakes then added the conversion to give the visitors a four-point lead.
The home crowd was cheering again though after 13 minutes as Hook fired over a long-range penalty to narrow the gap to a single point, 6-7.
London Irish though, buoyed by their first win of the season against Saints last weekend, continued to play some fine, attacking rugby with wing-wizard Lewington grabbing the visitors second score after 32 minutes. Noakes then added the extras to give the Exiles an unexpected eight-point lead.
Despite Gloucester reacting and applying some pressure they were unable to reduce the deficit, trailing 14-6 to at the interval.
Gloucester began the second half as they did the first as Hook slotted a three-pointer to bring the hosts within touching distance, 9-14.
The Cherry and Whites then should have maybe had a penalty try but were given the ball back with London Irish’s Lewington sent to the sin-bin as a result.
After several phases of attack, Hook opted for the penalty and slotted for three points to reduce the deficit to two points with 50 minutes gone, 12-14.
Gloucester then took the lead as Hook knocked over his fifth penalty of the game, 15-14.
The in-form Kvesic then crossed for the Cherry and Whites first try of the contest from a well-worked lineout drive and Hook continued his impressive day from the tee to slot the conversion, giving the hosts an eight-point lead.
Billy Burns then touched down Gloucester’s second try in five minutes with his first touch and although Hook wouldn’t convert Gloucester would hang on for the key 27-14 victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gloucester: James Hook
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Nicky Thomas, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paddy McAllister, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson.
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Topsy Ojo.
Date: Saturday, January 2
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury