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Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 27 London Irish 14

02 Jan 2016
Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 27 London Irish 14

A dominant second-half display from Gloucester Rugby ensured London Irish couldn’t take a second Aviva Premiership Rugby scalp in as many weekends.

The Exiles, who clinched a thrilling 25-23 victory over Northampton Saints last time out, opened up a 14-6 half-time lead at a sold-out Kingsholm, thanks to tries from Ciaran Hearn and Alex Lewington.

James Hook kicked the hosts into a narrow lead after the break as the Gloucester pack – inspired by Kiwi lock Jeremy Thrush – took command of the contest.

Matt Kvesic then scored off the back of a rolling maul to give Gloucester some breathing space and Billy Burns struck shortly after appearing off the bench to wrap things up.

Hook opened the scoring from the tee, after the Exiles struggled to cope with a powerful Gloucester rolling maul, but Irish were soon ahead.

Billy Meakes was the guilty party, brushed aside by opposite number Hearn, who then skipped past Billy Twelvetrees to dot down on eight minutes, Chris Noakes converting.

Hook brought the Cherry & Whites back to within one point of their visitors with his second penalty, this one from distance, five minutes later but once again they failed to kick on.

Hearn knocked on when well placed – much to the relief of the shed – but Irish struck again shortly after the half-hour mark, when a perfectly-placed cross-field kick from Noakes found Lewington.

The winger collected the ball safely and found his way over the whitewash for Noakes to add another conversion and open up a 14-6 lead, which they took into the break.

Hook struck early in the second half with his third penalty and Henry Purdy almost added Gloucester’s first try, charging the ball down and hacking it through before losing his footing close to the line.

The pressure did not let up and referee Tom Foley called on the assistance of the TMO twice in quick succession, the second – after a pile of bodies crossed the line – causing plenty of deliberation.

The try was not awarded but Lewington did earn a stint in the sin bin for his efforts and Hook reduced the deficit further with yet another penalty.

Shortly before the hour mark the Cherry & Whites took the lead for the first time since Hearn’s early score, Hook bisecting the posts for the fifth time.

Into the final 15 minutes, the fly-half twice denied another pop at the posts – finding the corner instead – and the strategy paid off.

A fearsome lineout drive piled its way over the Irish line and Kvesic was on hand to touch down, before Hook’s extras opened up an eight-point gap.

They quickly followed that up with a second try, sharp handling from Billy Twelvetrees sending Burns away to score. Hook sent the resulting kick wide but it mattered little, with Irish’s late hunt for a losing bonus point falling flat.

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