Gloucester Rugby 38 London Irish 30
SHANE Monahan and Marland Yarde exchanged hat-tricks as Gloucester fought back in a try fest at Kingsholm.
Scores from Sione Kalamafoni, Charlie Sharples and Monahan should have put the Cherry and Whites in a commanding position.
But London Irish were equally incisive with ball in hand and Ian Humphreys booted the visitors into the lead for the first time on 68 minutes following a touchdown from Gerard Ellis and Yarde’s treble.
Burns responded from the tee to give Gloucester a slender one-point lead as the nerve-wrecking encounter continued to twist and turn.
But the result was put beyond doubt when Monahan completed his hat-trick in the closing stages before Burns slotted the conversion, to surpass 1,000 career points for Gloucester.
Nigel Davies men need to win to have any chance of finishing seventh and while they kept their side of the bargain, Newcastle Falcons were unable to cause an upset against London Wasps.
Davies made two changes to the side that was stung by Wasps at Twickenham with Yann Thomas and Sila Puafisi coming into the second-row.
Elsewhere Will James packed down at lock in his final match at Kingsholm before retiring in the summer.
He led the team out after the RAF Falcons parachute display team delivered the match-day ball and Gloucester got off to a flying start.
Twelvetrees was prominent and it was his bust that laid the foundations for the opening score.
The England centre broke the Irish defensive line and offloaded to Jimmy Cowan, who was scragged but the ball was quickly recycled and Elliott Stooke fired a long pass, more befitting of a back, to Kalamafoni who sauntered home.
Twelvetrees added the extras but he did not last much longer after picking up a leg injury in the tackle.
But that did not deter the Cherry and Whites and they grabbed another try while Twelvetrees was receiving treatment.
Jonny May ran a loose Ian Humphreys kick back and Freddie Burns dinked the ball long over the head of Tom Homer.
The full-back was making his 100 appearance for the Exiles but Sharples was unforgiving and won the foot race to dive over.
Burns was unable to add the extras and Twelvetrees was helped off but Gloucester continued to attack at will.
Irish were showing very little following some early soirées into Gloucester territory but Yarde demonstrated his international potential with a sensational individual effort.
The two-cap flyer received the ball on his own ten-metre line but beat three defenders before waltzing inside the covering Sharples.
Humphreys missed the conversion and normal service resumed as Gloucester attacked from all angles.
SKalamafoni, nominated for the Premiership forward of the year award, was in rampaging form and it was his midfield charge put Irish on the ropes.
Cowan was kept at bay after a snipe around the fringes but the ball was recycled and Monahan bulldozed over.
Burns, who required seven points to reach the 1,000 milestone for Gloucester, was once again off target with the boot.
London Irish enjoyed a bright spell in the second quarter and kicked to the corner on three occasions as indiscipline crept into Gloucester’s game.
They paid the price when Steve Lee, refereeing his first Premiership encounter, sent Cowan to the sin-bin for backchat.
The Cherry and Whites’ defence initially held strong, that was until Yarde got on his hands on the ball and created something from nothing once again. He slipped Mike Tindall and went around the up rushing Shane Monahan, who had created a dog-leg in defence, before beating two more to score.
And Humphreys made no mistake in front of the posts to bring the scores to 17-12 as half-time approached.
Gloucester came flying out of the blocks once again following the restart. Despite being a man down, Tindall broke clear on the overlap, he found Monahan, who still had plenty to do, on the outside and he powered over with Yarde on his shoulders.
But Irish came back fighting in the loose and error-strewn encounter, they surged down field with Yarde threatening to bag a hat-trick before Ellis was bundled over.
Burns kept the scoreboard ticking but that did little to settle any nerves as Yarde completed his hat-trick.
Irish went on the attack following a loose Burns cross-field kick and despite a succession of questionable handling errors Humphreys darted through and offloaded to the red-hot wing.
Humphreys was off-target from the touchline but made amends by booting his side into the lead with a simple penalty on 68 minutes.
Burns responded before Dan Robson sent Monahan over to complete his hat-trick following a chaotic period of play. Myles Dorrian replied with a late penalty as irish fought desperately but Burns rubbed salt into the Exiles’ wounds with shot of his own at the death.
Gloucester: Rob Cook; Charlie Sharples (Billy Meakes 21), Mike Tindall, Billy Twelvetrees (Capt.) (Shane Monahan), Jonny May; Freddie Burns, Jimmy Cowan (Dan Robson 63); Yann Thomas (Dan Murphy 55), Huia Edmonds (Dan George 74), Sila Puafisi (Shaun Knight 63); Elliott Stooke, Will James (Tom Savage 51); Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic (Tom Young 64), Ben Morgan.
Tries: S Kalamafoni, C Sharples, S Monahan (3); Cons – B Twelvetrees, F Burns; Pens – Burns (3)
London Irish: Tom Homer (Alex Lewington 62); Marland Yarde, Fergus Mulchrone, Eamonn Sheridan, Andrew Fenby; Ian Humphreys, Tomás O’Leary (Capt.) (Darren Allinson 53); Matt Parr, Jimmy Stevens (Mike Mayhew 55), Leo Halavatau (Jamie Hagan 47); Ian Gough (Bryn Evans 48), Nic Rouse; Kieran Low, Jebb Sinclair, Chris Hala’ufia (Gerard Ellis 40).
Tries: M Yarde (3) G Ellis; Con – I Humpreys (2); Pens – I Humphreys, M Dorian
Referee: Steve Lee
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