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Late tries to James Simpson-Daniel and Akapusi Qera saw Gloucester come from behind to claim the four points in an entertaining spectacle played out in Reading.
The Exiles started the contest at an electric pace, taking the game to the visitors right from the off.
Tom Homer, who was replaced after 36 minutes with a calf injury, took an early high ball and set the Exiles on their way with a blistering run. Early signs showed Irish were going to be a completely different animal from last weekend.
Steve Shingler kicked the first points of the match on four minutes only to be cancelled out a few minutes later by the boot of Gloucester’s prolific point scorer, Freddie Burns.
Shingler added his second penalty before Topsy Ojo crossed for his first try of the season. Sailosi Tagicakibau, playing in the centre, carried the ball hard into the Gloucester defence before offloading out of the tackle to Jonathan Joseph in space. The ball was worked wide before Homer chipped the ball through for Ojo to chase and touch down. The try gave Irish an 11-3 lead.
The cherry and whites clawed themselves back into the match with two penalties from the boot of Burn. Shingler kicked his second penalty to pull Irish four points clear at 14-9.
Gloucester crossed for their first try two minutes before the break and it was scored by England’s barnstorming number 8, Ben Morgan, The England international was involved heavily in the build-up before smashing through the Irish defence to dot down under the posts. Burns added the extras to take Gloucester into the sheds two points clear.
London Irish started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, at a frenetic pace. Marland Yarde, who was outstanding for a second week in a row, was dragged down metres short of the try line in a move that saw Irish go 70 metres.
Burns kicked his fourth penalty goal to edge his side further ahead, however the Exiles regained the lead thanks to a try by prop forward, Halani Aulika, on his home debut. Shingler converted to make it 21-19 to the Exiles.
It got better for Irish when Ireland international, Tomás O’Leary, scored on his home debut. The Munsterman powerfully burrowed his way over the line from two metres out to put Irish 28 -22 ahead going into the final quarter.
Another Shingler penalty was as good as it got for Irish as Gloucester swung the match their way with 10 minutes to go. Freddie Burns, who scored 25 points, was the instigator for the second Gloucester try scored on 71 minutes scored by James Simpson Daniel before Akapusi Qera sealed the win with a try four minutes from time.
It was a scintillating game of rugby on a sunny afternoon at Madejski but not the result Irish were after. Brian Smith’s side travel to High Wycombe next weekend where they will face London Wasps.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-3, 6-3, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9, 14-9, 14-16, 14-19, 21-19, 21-22, 28-22, 28-25, 28-28, 31-28, 31-35, 31-40
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: Shingler (4, 19, 32, 69); Tries: Ojo (21), Aulika (47), O’Leary (58); Conversions: Shingler (2); Gloucester: Penalties: Burns (8, 25, 27, 45, 54, 59, 65); Tries: Morgan (38), Simpson-Daniel (71), Qera (76); Conversions: Burns (2)
London Irish team
15. Tom Homer (rep: Anthony Watson, 34); 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Steven Shingler; 9. Tomás O’Leary; 1. Max Lahiff (rep: Halani Aulika, 40); 2. Scott Lawson (rep: Brian Blaney, 62); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: John Ryan, 58); 4. George Skivington (rep: Kieran Low, 61); 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Declan Danaher (Captain) (rep: Alex Gray, 69; 7. Ofisa Treviranus; 8. Jon Fisher
Replacements: 16. Brian Blaney; 17. Halani Aulika; 18. John Ryan; 19. Kieran Low; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Anthony Watson; 22. Shane Geraghty; 23. Jack Moates
15. Jonny May; 14. Charlie Sharples (rep: Martyn Thomas, 59); 13. Henry Trinder (rep: Mike Tindall, 58); 12. Billy Twelvetrees; 11. James Simpson-Daniel; 10. Freddie Burns; 9. Dan Robson (rep: Dave Lewis, 62); 1. Nick Wood; 2. Darren Dawidiuk (rep: Huia Edmonds, 50); 3. Shaun Kinight (rep: Rupert Harden, 48); 4. Will James (rep: Sione Kalamfoni, 50); 5. Jim Hamilton (Captain); 6. Tom Savage; 7. Andy Hazell (rep: Akapusi Qera, 48); 8. Ben Morgan
Replacements: 16. Huia Edmonds; 17.Dan Murphy; 18. Rupert Harden; 19. Sione Kalamafoni; 20. Akapusi Qera; 21. Dave Lewis; 22. Mike Tindall; 23. Martyn Thomas
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 5, 828