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Gloucester survive London Irish fightback at the Madejski Stadium

By The Citizen  |  Posted: December 29, 2013

By Mike Brown

Comments (59)

BILLY Twelvetrees booted 14 points as Gloucester survived a second-half fightback at the Madejski Stadium. The Cherry and Whites were outscored three tries to one by London Irish but hung on to finish 2013 on a high with a crucial victory.

Twelvetrees was once again utilised at fly-half, with Freddie Burns who is on the verge of a three-year switch to Leicester Tigers, left on the bench.

And he orchestrated efficiently as Gloucester led by 12 points shortly after the break thanks to the centre-cum-fly-half’s haul and a Jonny May try.

The Exiles roared back with an Eamonn Sheridan double, either side of a Burns penalty, to add to Fergus Mulchrone’s earlier effort.

But Gloucester escaped with four points and completed a festive double after Shane Geraghty missed a late penalty to snatch a draw.

Nigel Davies named an unchanged team to the one that squeezed past Worcester Warriors but was forced into a late reshuffle after Darren Dawidiuk withdrew.

The hooker, who was named man-of-the-match against Worcester, suffered a knee strain in Saturday’s team run and was replaced by Huia Edmonds with Koree Britton stepping up to the bench.

South African prop CJ van der Linde was also set to make his debut for London Irish after signing for the Exiles earlier this month but he aggravated a his calf during the warm-up.

The Cherry and Whites made a nightmare start with Edmonds knocking on from the kick-off. That gave the Exiles the platform to attack and after earning a free-kick from the ensuing scrum they went on the attack.

Tomás O’Leary released Topsy Ojo, who hit the line at pace before firing a flat pass to Humphreys, who straightened the line to send Mulchrone clear after just 63 seconds.

The Irish fly-half added the extras but Twelvetrees responded on seven minutes as Gloucester fought back.

Humphreys had the opportunity to restore the hosts’ seven-point advantage after Gloucester went off their feet at the breakdown but he pushed his penalty effort across the face of goal.

With the set-piece under pressure, Gloucester were taking the ball standing still and looked to the corners.

A superb raking kick from Rob Cooke pinned Irish on their own five-metre line and James Hudson rose above Ian Gough to steal possession.

Matt Kvesic took the ball into contact with venom and earned a penalty which Twelvetrees duly slotted after Kieran Low competed while off his feet.

Moments later the Cherry and Whites set Irish alarm bells ringing after Edmonds burst clear from inside his own 22 following an inside pass from Jimmy Cowan.

The Australian showed a remarkable turn of pace for a hooker and chipped over fellow countryman James O’Conner.

He won the race to the ball but was swiftly stripped of possession by the recovering full-back.

Gloucester continued to grow with the Exiles’ poor kicking from hand giving Davies’ men ample opportunity to counter-attack with May, Cook and Charlie Sharples all prominent.

But it was a text-book jackal from Mike Tindall that created the opening for Gloucester’s try.

The former England centre pounced to strip Ofisa Treviranus of possession and Twelvetrees caught Irish napping with a lightening quick-tap. He then flicked the ball to May, who blazed over to stretch his strike rate to 11 tries in his last 15 Premiership matches.

The stand-in fly-half made no mistake with the conversion to boot his side into a 13-7 lead.

Gloucester continued to put themselves under pressure by taking the ball standing still but caused Irish real problems when they got over the gain-line.

They had plenty of opportunities in the closing stages of the half with Matt Cox dropping possession from a promising breakout.

But after Cook once again pinned Irish back on the counter, Twelvetrees added a fourth penalty to make it 16-7 at the interval.

Humphreys had the opportunity to hit back within six minutes of the restart, after Gloucester were penalised at the breakdown, but fluffed his lines.

Treviranus came agonisingly close to crossing the whitewash but was held short and May broke out to alleviate the pressure and launch a frantic attack.

Sharples collected a clearance and Twelvetrees found Elliot Stooke with a perfectly weighted cross-kick but the second-row could not power over.

However, the Gloucester pack flexed their collective muscle to earn three points courtesy of Twelvetrees’ boot.

But that hard work was undone as Irish launched a sustained period of pressure and clawed their way back into the encounter as Sheridan evaded the tackle of Tindall to squeeze into the corner.

Geraghty failed to convert but the try prompted Davies to ring the changes with Freddie Burns among the three-man cavalry and it took the fly-half just three minutes to stamp his mark on the game with a penalty as Twelvetrees received treatment.

But Irish continued to battle and they set up a tense finale with their third try with less than 10 minutes left.

Nic Rouse sold a sublime dummy to break clear and he fed Alex Lewington on the outside.

Dan Robson recovered to make a fine try-saving tackle but the hosts retained possession and following a sustained period of pressure Sheridan powered through the scrum-half and May to score.

Geraghty displayed nerves of steel to add the conversion and cut Gloucester’s slender lead to three but he was off target after the Cherry and White pack conceded at the death.

London Irish: J O'Connor; T Ojo, F Mulchrone, E Sheridan, A Lewington (A Fenby 76); I Humphreys (S Geraghty 48), T O'Leary; M Parr (J Yapp 48), J Stevens (M Mayhew 48), L Halavatau (J Hagan 40), G Skivington, I Gough (J Sinclair 40), K Low, O Treviranus, B Cowan (N Rouse 48).

Unused Replacements: E Hoadley

Tries – F Mulchrone, E Sheridan (2); Cons – I Humphreys, S Geraghty

Gloucester: R Cook (M Thomas 74); C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall (F Burns 57), J May; B Twelvetrees (capt), J Cowan (D Robson 67); N Wood (Y Thomas ), H Edmonds, S Puafisi (S Knight 67); E Stooke, J Hudson (W James 71); M Cox, M Kvesic, B Morgan

Unused Replacements: K Britton, G Evans,

Try – J May; Con – B Twlevetrees; Pens – B Twelvetrees (4), F Burns

Referee: A Small

Attendance: 11,174

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59 comments

  • fuddIebagIey  |  December 30 2013, 2:11PM

    Harden = Top Man = Gloucester's Top tighthead.

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  • Conran_Selby  |  December 30 2013, 2:09PM

    Harden = Gloucester Rugby's first choice tight head. No doubt about it!

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  • Roon77  |  December 30 2013, 2:07PM

    Let's face it, the so-called "Kap721" is just the same clueless old Gloucester hating multi-identity troll who has never been to any Gloucester game at Kingsholm, let alone any away and has no idea about front row play. He doesn't even know what the Shed is. And that is all because he is most definitely NOT a Gloucester Rugby supporter. # Rupҽrt Hardҽn is Gloucester Rugby's stand-out tight head. ND knows it which is why he selects him to start all the critical games.

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  • fuddIebagIey  |  December 30 2013, 2:02PM

    Laugh at the brain-dead troll Kap721 aka shedheadNOT aka gloslover-NOT pretending to be a Gloucester Rugby supporter. The fact is, he is a clueless idiot who knows absolutely nothing about Gloucester Rugby or rugby union. In fact, he knows so little about anything that it comes as no surprise that his daily routine includes a visit to the job centre.

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  • StanFromGIaws  |  December 30 2013, 2:01PM

    ...And up pops the very Gloucester Rugby and Rupҽrt Hardҽn hating multi-troll, "Kap721" aka "CherryCAN'TSPELLwhite" aka "flightorflightevenmore", with his usual drivel demonstrating again that he hasn't got the first clue about rugby union. Remember, he has never been to any Gloucester Rugby games and he has no idea where Kingsholm is or who any of the players are. He most certainly has never, ever played the game and, once again, he has just proven how clueless and dull he is.

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  • StanFromGIaws  |  December 30 2013, 11:48AM

    Well done to Gloucester Rugby for grinding out the win but we really struggled in the scrum as usual without our best and most talented tight head, Rupҽrt Hardҽn. But it wasn't just in the scrum where we struggled without Harden. The team really needed the power that he brings to the ruck and maul too, and his general open play.

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  • Curt_Downe  |  December 30 2013, 11:31AM

    Harden has had a storming season. It is no wonder he is selected to start the most games of all the front row forwards. And not just any old games. It is the key games where you need your best players.

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  • TuffleyRader  |  December 30 2013, 11:30AM

    This is all well and good but what a club like Gloucester Rugby really needs to do is to ensure that Rupҽrt Hardҽn, our first choice and most talented tight head prop, starts as many games for Gloucester as is possible. They also need to get some decent back up in for him.

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  • greg_walsh  |  December 30 2013, 11:28AM

    Harden has been an absolute star this season. He deserves an early contract renewal for the great effort he has put in this season.

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  • CrunchieMan  |  December 30 2013, 11:18AM

    Laughing at the clueless Gloucester Rugby and Rupҽrt Hardҽn hating troll shedheadNEVER aka gloslover-not/dopey-lerone/bikeshed/dumbanddumber20 pretending that he knows anything about rugby or that he is remotely interested in Gloucester Rugby. He is getting so upset because his "partner" has sprung a leak and Halfords isn't open so that he can get a puncture repair kit. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

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