Gloucester Rugby’s victory over London Irish may not have been one for the ages but director of rugby David Humphreys admits his side needed to get back to winning ways by any means possible.
A nervy first half saw both sides struggle to carve out any chances until returning Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw broke the deadlock with a penalty five minutes before the interval.
Laidlaw’s second success from the tee was swiftly followed by the game’s opening try as Mark Atkinson and Steve McColl showed quick hands to release winger Henry Purdy, who surged over the line.
The Exiles pulled themselves back into the reckoning with three penalties from Shane Geraghty but McColl’s converted score after fly-half James Hook’s deft chip ended the hosts’ fight back at the Madejski Stadium.
And with victory ending a run of three successive Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats for the Cherry & Whites, Humphreys is confident the belief is back, typified by an impressive showing from man-of-the-match flanker Matt Kvesic.
“Coming off the back of the last couple of defeats it was important to get any sort of win,” he said.
“We are delighted to come away with four points, it wasn’t a great spectacle but we dug deep, worked very hard and showed a huge amount of character to defend for long periods of the game.
“At the minute we are not showing the precision, we are not scoring the tries we’d like to but we are showing huge energy, huge enthusiasm – those are the bits you can’t coach.
“The game was won by our defence. I thought Matt Kvesic was outstanding. Week on week he’s got better and better, he’s becoming increasingly confident.
“Giving him the captaincy last week was another part of that development as a player – that will benefit him going forward. If he performs like that he will be pushing back towards England very quickly.”
The defeat completes a tough month for Irish, who remain without a home victory in the league this season and are now winless in five Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters.
And director of rugby Brian Smith believes his side’s inability to make use of territory and possession needs addressing, regardless of the venue or the personnel.
“I rolled the dice a little bit this week, there were six guys coming back from international duty and their energy was outstanding, they’ve created a buzz,” he said.
“We’ve needed that because November has been a punishing month for us – we’ve had absolutely no traction, which is massively disappointing.
“The effort was there but we were inaccurate, the buck stops with me, it’s my responsibility. We had big opportunities inside their 22 in both the first and second-half and we couldn’t convert pressure into points.
“You’ve got to do that away, you’ve got to do that at home – you’ve got to do that to win games.
“We’ve got no complaints, the only pleasing thing about November is that it’s over and we can move onto Europe now where we are going well.”
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London Irish: Homer; Lewington, Mulchrone, Geraghty, Short; Noakes (Griffin 44), Steele (Allinson 48); Court, Paice, Cross (Aulika 48, Halavatau 74), Cox, Low (Leo 48, Gilsenan 77), Sinclair, Cowan, Treviranus
Replacements not used: Woolstencroft, Ojo
Gloucester Rugby: McColl; Sharples, Meakes, Atkinson, Purdy; Hook, Laidlaw; Thomas, Hibbard (Lutui 52), Afoa, Savage, Palmer (Stooke 70), Kalamafoni, Kvesic, Evans (Moriarty 61)
Replacements not used: Knight, Puafisi, Braley, Burns, Monahan
Sin bin: Savage 77
Penalties: Geraghty 3
Tries: Purdy, McColl
Penalties: Laidlaw 3
Referee: Matthew Carley