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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sun 29 Dec 2013
Kick Off: 14:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Andrew Small
TV Match Official: Graham Hughes
Assistant Referee: Nigel Carrick
Assistant Referee: Paul Burton
A first half try from Fergus Mulchrone and two second half scores from Eamonn Sheridan were only enough for a bonus point as a Billy Twelvetrees inspired Gloucester side held on at the end for all four points.
The Gloucester captain kicked 14 points and directed his side brilliantly to ensure they left Reading with the victory.
London Irish started the match in an extremely bright fashion in front of over 11,000 passionate supporters. Gloucester won the kick-off and instead of clearing their lines, opted to carry the ball. Huia Edmonds fumbled the ball in contact and that gave Irish the scrum 10 metres out from the visitor’s line.
The Irish pack won the ball and released it to the backs and they took the ball to the Gloucester line in determined mode. Ian Humphreys found the gap and passed to Fergus Mulchrone who ran in for the opening try. Humphreys converted to give Irish the perfect start and a 7-0 lead.
That was as good as it got in the first period for Brian Smith’s side. Gloucester came with a game plan of pinning Irish back in their own 22, forcing them to play from deep. Billy Twelvetrees, playing at 10, had a sterling first half and his kicking game was on top form. As well as playing the corners he kicked two penalty goals on seven and 20 minutes respectively to cut the Irish lead to just one point.
Jonny May scampered over for the Cherry and Whites first try on 25 minutes after an Irish mistake. This time it was Irish looking to run from deep and when James O’Connor was tackled and turned over, the ball fell to the feet of Twelvetrees who scooped it up to the Gloucester flyer who had clear space in front of him as he ran in for the score. Twelvetrees conversion put Gloucester 13-7 ahead.
The errors kept coming from Irish and half time couldn’t come quick enough. Billy Twelvetrees kicked his third penalty on half time to send his side into the sheds 16-7 ahead.
Brian Smith’s troops were a different side in the second half. They worked hard in defence, limiting Gloucester to very few scoring opportunities, and scored two good tries of their own.
Billy Twelvetrees and Freddie Burns added a penalty each but apart from that it was all Irish. Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone really announced themselves to the Premiership in front of the TV cameras were superb performances.
The big Irish inside centre powered his way over for a crucial try on 56 minutes to keep Irish well in the hunt. James O’Connor passed the ball to Sheridan on the touchline a few metres out and he powered his way over the attempted tackle of Mike Tindall to put Irish back in the game.
His second try, scored with only nine minutes remaining, showcased his power to full effect as he bundled his way over to give the supporters a tense finish. Geraghty’s conversion meant there was only three points between the sides.
The fly half had the chance to draw his side level with a penalty goal attempt from 40 metres out. Unfortunately the attempt didn’t have the legs and Gloucester held on for the win.
London Irish host Worcester Warriors at Madejski Stadium next Saturday in a crucial Aviva Premiership encounter.
Score sequence (London Irish): 7-0, 7-3, 7-6, 7-13, 7-16, 7-19, 12-19, 12-22, 19-22
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Mulchrone (2), Sheridan (56, 71); Conversions: Humphreys, Geraghty; Gloucester: Penalties: Twelvetrees (7, 20, 40, 54), Burns (60); Tries: May (25); Conversions: Twelvetrees
15. James O'Connor; 14. Topsy Ojo (rep: Andrew Fenby, 78); 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Eamonn Sheridan; 11. Alex Lewington; 10. Ian Humphreys (rep: Shane Geraghty, 48); 9. Tomás O'Leary; 1. Matt Parr (rep: John Yapp, 54); 2. Jimmy Stevens (rep: Mike Mayhew, 54); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: Jamie Hagan, 40); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Ian Gough (rep: Nic Rouse, 40); 6. Kieran Low; 7. Ofisa Treviranus; 8. Blair Cowan (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 55)
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew; 17. John Yapp; 18. Jamie Hagan; 19. Nic Rouse; 20. Jebb Sinclair; 21. Andrew Fenby; 22. Shane Geraghty; 23. Ed Hoadley
15. Rob Cook (rep: Martyn Thomas, 75); 14. Charlie Sharples; 13. Henry Trinder; 12. Mike Tindall (rep: Freddie Burns 57); 11. Jonny May; 10. Billy Twelvetrees (Captain); 9. Jimmy Cowan (rep: Dan Robson, 58); 1. Nick Wood (rep: Yann Thomas, 58); 2. Darren Dawidiuk; 3. Sila Puafisi (rep: Shaun Knight, 62); 4. Elliott Stooke; 5. James Hudson (rep: Will James, 72); 6. Matt Cox; 7. Matt Kvesic; 8. Ben Morgan
Replacements: 16. Huia Edmonds; 17. Yann Thomas; 18. Shaun Knight; 19. Will James; 20. Gareth Evans; 21. Dan Robson; 22. Freddie Burns; 23. Martyn Thomas
Referee: Andrew Small
Attendance: 11, 174