A young London Irish team had a baptism of fire when they came up against a Gloucester Rugby team featuring former All Blacks and British and Irish Lions.

There were plenty of positives in the first 20 minutes for the Exiles who were joined by the home team to support current London Irish hooker and former Gloucester player, Darren Dawidiuk, who is currently receiving treatment for testicular cancer by wearing Oddballs bobble hats and T-shirts with Dukey 2 on them as they warmed up for the game to raise awareness of testicular cancer to get men checking more regularly to be diagnosed sooner.  

The first 20 minutes saw London Irish strong in defence as the Gloucester backs unleashed their full repertoire and it wasn't until the 23rd minute that Gloucester's captain Willi Heinz found a way through to the try line.

After kicking for the corner, Gloucester won the line-out for their forwards to rumble forwards pushed on by shouts of heave from the infamous Shed. The Irish players piled in to stop the scrum in its tracks but the ball was unleashed to the Cherry & Whites backs for Heinz to seal the first score of the game. Billy Burns was on target with the conversion.

Five minutes later, Gloucester were penned in their own 22 but forced the turnover and Billy Burns kicked them upfield into a dangerous attacking position. A strong run from former Wales international and British and Irish Lion, Richard Hibbard, made way for Val Rapava Ruskin to dot down and extend Gloucester's lead to 12-0.

Undeterred, the Exiles made headway towards the Gloucester whitewash with a Ben Ransom run down the right wing and offload to Theo Brophy Clews in space. There was no support for Brophy Clews as the Gloucester defence closed in but Heinz was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on and the Irish forwards powered to within inches of the try line. The positive work was undone when they gave away a penalty and Burns was able to kick Gloucester up to the halfway line.

The Gloucester forwards looked ominous until a knock-on gave Irish the scrum and Irish were back in attack until Ransom couldn't grasp a kick and Gloucester wrestled back possession and made their way back into the Exiles 22 with minutes to go until half-time. The Irish forwards absorbed the pressure from the Gloucester pack but the ball made its way out of the maul to Tom Hudson who crossed the try line on the stroke of half-time. Burns converted to send the teams in for the break with the score standing at Gloucester 19-0 London Irish.

The Irish backs came out for the second half with intent which paid off earning a penalty in the Gloucester 22. The Exiles forwards took charge after winning the line-out and burrowed towards the whitewash with Ollie Hoskins putting the first score on the board for London Irish on 46 minutes. Greig Tonks slotted the conversion on his return.

Gloucester responded emphatically and it looked like their forwards had claimed a bonus point try but they were called back for several scrum resets. The pressure on the young London Irish forwards told and Jeremy Thrush broke away from the Gloucester pack to secure the bonus point on 58 minutes. Twelvetrees took over the kicking duties and added the extras.

Four minutes later, Henry Trinder took advantage of some tired Exiles legs to blaze down the left wing for a try with Twelvetrees adding the conversion.

Irish secured three penalties and kicked for the corner three times in a row looking like they might get a last minute score until Thrush stole the third lineout to send Gloucester storming up the pitch in numbers. Callum Braley was the beneficiary with a score which Twelvetrees converted. Then with five minutes to go Jake Polledri bagged the last try of the game converted by Twelvetrees.

With two minutes left on the clock, Irish looked to add to their points tally with a line-out and great drive from the forwards forcing a yellow card for Gloucester's James Hanson for collapsing the maul but it was too little too late as the game finished 47-7 to the home side.



Tries: Hoskins 46

Cons: Tonks 47



Tries: Heinz 23, Rapava Ruskin 27, Hudson 40, Thrush 58, Trinder 60, Braley 72, Polledri 75 

Cons: Burns 24, 41; Twelvetrees 59, 61, 73, 76


Gloucester Rugby: Hudson, Purdy (Symons, 44), Trinder, Twelvetrees, Thorley, Burns (Evans, 48), Heinz (c) (Braley, 62), Rapava Ruskin (Denman, 58), Hibbard (Hanson, 58), Afoa (Hohneck, 58), Slater (Savage, 58), Thrush, Polledri, Rowan, Ludlow (Safe, 72)

London Irish: Tonks, Ransom, Mulchrone (c) (Williams, 50), McLean, Loader, Brophy Clews (Atkins, 73), Brand, Smallbone (Elrington, 50), Woolstencroft, Hoskins (Chawatama, 58), Lloyd, Cooke, Basham, Northcote-Green (Donnell, 73), Schatz

Attendance: 11,272


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