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In freezing conditions, Irish showed a lot of composure to secure the victory in a performance that also saw Tom Homer kick 18 points.
Irish made a bright start to the encounter with the returning Sailosi Tagicakibau, making an immediate impact with a barnstorming run in the lead up to the opening penalty of the match, which was kicked by Tom Homer on four minutes.
Three minutes later Irish crossed for their first try of the game and the Samoan winger was yet again in the thick of the action. Tagicakibau acrobatically collected Dan Bowden’s chip over the first line of defence to put Irish on the front foot. Following some good ball retention from the Irish pack, Dan Bowden fired a pass to Brian Blaney on the wing, and the Irishman showed great strength to score in the corner. Irish led 8-0.
Irish edged further ahead leading into the 20 minute mark of the first half with two Homer penalties. The Exiles showed good work at the breakdown on both occasions to present Homer with the penalty opportunities.
Since establishing a good lead in the first 20 minutes the match stagnated and both sides failed to take command of the contest.
Gloucester certainly made the brighter start to the second half and were only four points behind on the 50 minute mark thanks to a straightforward penalty goal from Mike Tindall that was shortly followed by a breakaway try from Ian Clark, completely against the run of play.
Tom Homer stepped up to settle Irish nerves with a penalty goal seconds after the Clark try to give the Exiles a seven point buffer.
Tom Homer extended this with another fantastic strike just on the hour mark. Irish were continuing to play, showing plenty of attacking intent whilst taking points when the chances were given.
Gloucester showed great hands in the lead up to Clark’s second try to leave supporters with a tense finale. Fuimoana-Sapolu showed great skill to create the extra man and allow Clark to cross for a brace.
Tom Homer put the result beyond Gloucester when he kicked his sixth penalty on 75 minutes to secure London Irish victory.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 8-0, 11-0, 14-0, 14-3, 14-10, 17-10, 20-10, 20-15, 23-15
Scorers: London Irish; Penalties: Homer (4, 15, 17, 52, 59, 75) ; Tries: Blaney (8); Gloucester; Penalties: Tindall (45); Tries: Clark (49, 64)
London Irish team
15. Tom Homer; 14. Adam Thompstone; 13. Jonathan Spratt; 12. Shontayne Hape; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau (rep: Guy Armitage, 66); 10. Dan Bowden (rep: Adrian Jarvis, 40); 9. Darren Allinson (rep: Ross Samson, 50); 1. Clarke Dermdy (Captain) (rep: Paulica Ion, 66); 2. Brian Blaney (rep: David Paice, 60); 3. Paulica Ion (rep: Max Lahiff, 50); 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Bryn Evans (rep: Kieran Roche, 60); 6. Matt Garvey; 7. David Sisi (rep: Alex Gray, 60); 8. Richard Thorpe
Replacements: 16. David Paice; 17. Max Lahiff; 18. Mark George; 19. Kieran Roche; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Guy Armitage; 22. Adrian Jarvis; 23. Ross Samson
Gloucester Rugby team
15. Tom Voyce; 14. Ian Clark; 13. Tim M olennar; 12. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu; 11. James Simpson-Daniel; 10. Mike Tindall (rep: Billy Burns, 76); 9. Dave Lewis (rep: Nick Runciman, 60); 1. Dan Murphy (rep: Yann Thomas, 71); 2. Darren Dawidiuk (rep: Matias Cortese, 60); 3. Shaun Knight; 4. Will James (rep: Tom Savage, 60); 5. Alex Brown; 6. Peter Buxton (Captain) (rep: Gareth Evans, 68); 7. Andy Hazell (rep: Akapusi Qera, 8); 8. Matt Cox
Replacements: 16. Matias Cortese; 17. Yann Thomas; 18. Dario Chistolini; 19. Tom Savage; 20. Gareth Evans; 21. NickRunciman; 22. Billy Burns; 23. Akapusi Qera
Referee: Sean Davey