Please use the buttons below to see more information on Worcester Warriors and matches between Irish and Worcester over the years.
In an ideal world if you are going to break an unwanted record then it is best to do so in style! As various commentators were quick to point out over the weekend London Irish had not won at Kingsholm since the start of the professional era. In fact the losing sequence stretched back even further to 1993! That the ten year lack of success was finally ended was satisfying, that it was done so in style was rewarding and that it was done in front of BBC TV Grandstand’s cameras was brilliant!
The pre-match news from the Exiles had been worrying. Injuries to captain Ryan Strudwick and Rob Hardwick, compounded by the late withdrawal of Naka Drotske with a calf muscle strain, did not encourage hopes of a positive result. However, there had been an air of quiet confidence among the squad in the build-up to the game. That confidence proved to be well placed as the young stand-ins with the support and encouragement of their more experienced team-mates gave a performance that was enjoyed not just by the travelling supporters but also by countless more watching on television.
A dry, sunny, autumn afternoon provided ideal conditions for an exciting game. The opening exchanges were lively with the first score - a superbly struck Barry Everitt penalty from 40 metres in the third minute – giving the Exiles the perfect start. Stung by this reverse Gloucester attacked prompted by their lively scrum half Simon Amor. Phase after phase of cherry and white pressure was rebuffed until the 12th minute when a strong drive by the home side’s Number 8, Peter Buxton led to a penalty which Henry Paul kicked successfully to level the score.
That pattern of play was to be repeated through the opening quarter with the Exiles’ defence tested time and again. In the 20th minute Michael Horak cleared up the left wing with a chip and chase kick, he was tackled. From the ensuing ruck Adrian Flavin, acting temporarily as scrum half, passed right to Darren Edwards. His long accurate pass found Phil Murphy who picked up the momentum of the move before passing to send Paul Sackey speeding over the final 20 metres to score in the right corner. Everitt missed the difficult conversion.
Inevitably, Gloucester lifted their game led by example by their formidable captain (and former London Irish favourite) Jake Boer. Their efforts were rewarded by two penalties in the 24th and 28th minute by Paul. The latter score gave the home side the lead for the first and only time in the match and encouraged them to attack.
The opening thirty minutes had just expired when what was to prove to be a vital four minutes for Irish occurred. Gloucester’s veteran prop forward, Andy Deacon, knocked on in the Irish 22, referee Mr Ashton-Jones played advantage. Geoff Appleford picked up the ball and broke from his 22 to the half-way line, he then passed inside to Paul Sackey who once again showed what a world class sprinter he is by outpacing the home side’s speedy full back, Jon Goodridge, to score under the posts.
Three minutes later, Irish won a line-out 25 metres from the Gloucester line on the right. The ball was taken brilliantly and passed to Edwards who flicked it to Declan Danaher. He had the pace and power to drive through a gap in the home defence before passing to Geoff Appleford who sped through to score under the posts. Barry Everitt had no trouble with his second easy conversion in the space of four minutes. Irish were leading 22-9 and had succeeded in achieving the almost impossible at Kingsholm of silencing the famous “Shed”.
Paul and Everitt were to exchange penalties in the final minutes of the half to leave the score 12-25 at the break.
Inevitably the opening exchanges of the second period were as frantic as the first as both sides probed for the crucial advantage. Nick Kennedy and Phil Murphy were prominent in helping Declan Danaher and the tireless Kieron Dawson frustrate the home side’s determined efforts.
The half was five minutes old when Simon Amor managed to slip underneath a tackle on the Exiles’ 22 and just beat Michael Horak to the goal line. Paul converted to narrow the score to six points and trigger another period of intense pressure from the home side that tested Irish’s defensive abilities. Rob Hoadley, Adrian Flavin and Pierre Durant ably assisted by an outstanding captain in Neal Hatley, were prominent in preventing any further scores.
The game had entered its final quarter when Irish drove down the left into the Gloucester half. A ruck formed, Barry Everitt collected the ball, spotted a gap on the blind side and passed to Darren Edwards. He made an initial break before spinning a perfectly timed pass to Justin Bishop steaming up on his inside. The Irish international winger prove once again that he is unstoppable at that distance as he touched down just left of the post for his team’s fourth try. Everitt converted to give the Exiles a 32-19 lead.
That score was to set fire to the home side once again. Encouraged by the vocal supporters in the Shed and led by the forwards, they launched wave after wave of attack at Irish. The pressure paid off in the 74th minute when Henry Paul forced his way over the goal line for a try which he converted.
In the final minute of normal time another powerful drive by Phil Murphy carried play through to the home side’s 22. He was stopped illegally, he picked up from the resulting scrum and drove again, however as he was stopped again, the ball was passed by replacement scrum half Kevin Barrett to Barry Everitt who kicked a superb drop goal.
The game then entered injury time – ten minutes of it – that was to strain the hearts of both players and supporters! Irish were forced to defend heroically. In the 83rd minute Justin Bishop who had an outstanding game, was sin-binned for tackling when offside. Paul kicked the resulting penalty to mean his team needed a converted try to win. Two minutes later Michael Horak was unlucky when what appeared to be a legitimate try was disallowed by the referee after consultation with his touch judge. Irish were forced to spend the remaining five minutes heroically defending their line with fourteen men. That they did so successfully is testimony not just to their skills but also to the exceptional spirit in the squad. The result of their efforts was a genuinely famous victory.
Scoring sequence (Gloucester first): 0-3, 3-3, 6-8, 9-8, 9-15, 9-22, 12-22, 12-25 (half-time) 19-25, 19-32, 26-32, 26-35, 29-35.
Ref: G Ashton-Jones (RFU).