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Exiles give Catt the perfect send-off

05 May 2012
Exiles give Catt the perfect send-off

London Irish gave England-bound attack coach Mike Catt the perfect send-off with a six-try 52-18 win over Gloucester in a Madejski Stadium contest marred by the sendings off of Jim Hamilton and David Paice.

The game was effectively over by half-time as tries from Darren Allinson, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Jonathan Joseph, plus a 19-point haul from Tom Homer, put Irish 34-11 ahead.

Homer kicked another penalty while substitute Marland Yarde (2) and the departing Delon Armitage added further tries to complete the rout.

Two Tom Voyce tries and eight points from Freddie Burns were all Gloucester had to show for their efforts as they suffered a sixth-straight defeat to hand Mike Tindall a sad end to his Kingsholm career.

But the game will be best remembered for the huge brawl that saw Gloucester lock Hamilton and Irish hooker Paice dismissed. The pair had already been sin-binned for exchanging punches by referee Dave Pearson, but when they elected to hold round two of their bout on the way to the touchline it sparked a mass confrontation and they were both shown red.

Homer had booted the Exiles into a sixth-minute lead as he landed a monster penalty from just inside his own half, although Burns soon responded with a more straightforward effort.

But Homer, Aviva Premiership Rugby's top points scorer this term, gave Irish a nine-point lead by the 19-minute mark as he slotted three further penalties in quick succession, with Gloucester's scrum coming in for particular attention from referee Pearson.

The Cherry and Whites produced a sharp response by claiming the game's first try from their first concerted attack. Strong running from centres Jonny May and Tindall took the visitors into the Irish 22, and they showed patience to work full-back Voyce over in the right-hand corner.

However, that score only proved a brief respite as Homer added his fifth penalty before the Exiles crafted a lovely score just before the half-hour. Joseph fed Armitage and the winger raced down the left touchline before finding Allinson in support for the scrum-half to step inside the cover for a try, converted by Homer.

Burns replied with a penalty for Gloucester but Irish were unquestionably in complete control and they effectively killed the game off with two tries in the final four minutes of the opening half.

Fly-half Steve Shingler set up the first as his neat footwork and offloading skills found Allinson, who in turn sent Tagicakibau racing over for a seven-pointer. Centre Joseph then had a clear run in through a weak Charlie Sharples tackle moments later to give the hosts a 23-point interval lead.

The game had proved to be typical end-of-season fare but it suddenly erupted seven minutes into the second half. Hamilton and Paice traded blows off the ball, sparking a melee which saw the pair sin-binned by Pearson. But the duo squared up again as they walked from the field, with their second exchange of punches leading to a mass brawl near the touchline, leaving Pearson with little option but to dish out red cards to the central protagonists.

Gloucester were soon down to 13 men when Tindall was singled out for pulling back a support runner, with Homer kicking his sixth penalty. The visitors' fragile defence was soon exposed again as Shingler's astute chip was gathered by Yarde for the winger to shake off a tackle and score with his first touch, while Armitage soon raced clear for his own five-pointer.

Yarde added his second late on as the Exiles broke from deep for the England Under-20 flyer to canter over unopposed, while Voyce had the final word in the dying seconds for Gloucester.

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