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Gloucester Rugby 38 London Irish 30

03 May 2014
Gloucester Rugby 38 London Irish 30

Marland Yarde and replacement Shane Monahan both grabbed a hat-trick of tries as Gloucester Rugby edged a 38-30 thriller over London Irish at Kingsholm.

The Cherry & Whites’ last Aviva Premiership home game of the season was a worthy send-off as Sione Kalamafoni and Charlie Sharples crossed in the first ten minutes.

Billy Twelvetrees took a blow to his ankle early in the the first half but Monahan came on for Gloucester to dot down twice before the break, while Yarde also bagged two scores.

Yarde was the first to complete his treble – as Gerard Ellis also got on the scoresheet for Irish – but Monahan touched down his third of the game with five minutes to go.

Freddie Burns then scored two late penalties to ensure a scintillating victory for Gloucester.

Cherry & Whites captain Tom Savage was named in the squad for the first time since November after recovering from injury, while retiring lock Will James returned to the starting XV for his Kingsholm farewell.

And his send-off started in fitting fashion as Twelvetrees broke from his own 22, before Elliot Stooke whistled out a pin-point pass to Kalamafoni.

Kalamafoni then cantered home to dot down inside two minutes as Twelvetrees added the conversion – yet Irish responded with typical pace.

Only a last-ditch tackle from Jimmy Cowan stopped Andy Fenby from surging over the whitewash as Irish pressed, before losing all their momentum by conceding a penalty.

Gloucester then won the first battle at the scrum, as Burns went on to reel off a sumptuous cross-field kick for Sharples to chase.

Exiles full-back Tom Homer got caught out as the ball dropped in behind and Sharples raced away to bag the hosts’ second try in ten minutes.

However, the play ended on a sour note as Twelvetrees limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury to be replaced by Monahan.

But the back was caught flat-footed as Yarde cut inside – after bursting from near the halfway line – to haul the Exiles right back into the game.

Ian Humphreys’ missed conversion rounded off a madcap opening 15 minutes, and soon after the Cherry & Whites were hit with further injury trouble as try-scorer Sharples left the field for Bill Meakes.

Then Kalamafoni punched through midfield after a line-out to spark another Gloucester attack and, after patient build-up, Monahan touched down in the corner.

Another series of promising attacks were thwarted by both sides until Yarde once more danced through the Gloucester line to reduce the arrears to seven, as Humphreys slotted the extras.

But the home side started the second half just as breathlessly as the first, Monahan again with a brilliant finish to evade Yarde’s clutches after Mike Tindall’s initial break.

Burns missed his second conversion of the match before Irish once again came charging back, this time Ellis applying the final touch to Tomas O’Leary’s surge.

Humphreys’ conversion bounced off the post and out but Burns was finding his length, knocking over the game’s first penalty on 51 minutes to extend Gloucester’s lead to eight.

James then jogged off the Kingsholm turf for the last time to a standing ovation to be replaced by another huge cheer for the returning Savage.

As the game grew on Yarde’s star certainly wasn’t diminishing and the England wing bagged his hat-trick on the hour mark after a sharp offload from Humphreys.

Fly-half Humphreys converted and went on to despatch a three-pointer as Irish took the lead for the first time for the match.

With just eight minutes to go Burns powered over a long-range penalty to retake the advantage by one point, before Monahan opened up breathing space by racing away into the corner for his treble.

Burns then added the extras and collected another three points with the final kick of the game, to finally down Irish after replacement Myles Dorrian’s penalty moments earlier.

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