Booth proud of Irish despite defeat
October 1, 2011
Gloucester fly-half Tim Taylor attempts to break through the London Irish defence © Getty Images
Head coach Toby Booth declared himself proud of his London Irish side after their thrilling 33-30 Aviva Premiership defeat at Gloucester - and believes the performance of the youngsters on show at Kingsholm showed great promise for the future of English rugby.
The see-saw six-try encounter provided superb entertainment in sweltering conditions, and was lit up by the pace of Exiles three-quarter Jonathan Joseph and powerful flanker Alex Gray, while centre Henry Trinder and hooker Darren Dawidiuk starred for the hosts.
And with the majority of the young talent on show being English qualified, Booth felt the game provided an exciting glimpse of what could lie ahead while the current England squad toil in New Zealand.
"The innocence of youth provides a lot of things, it provides a fluctuation in performance but it also provides excitement and a lot of hope for the future of English rugby because there were a lot of youngsters out there who were English qualified and have a point to prove, they want to upset the old guard and I find that very refreshing," he said.
Booth's men had appeared to be in trouble when they trailed 23-10 late in the first half, thanks in part to a well-worked Tom Voyce score and a penalty try for Gloucester. But Irish, who had claimed the opening try when Gray intercepted a Tim Taylor pass in the first minute, hit back with 17 points in eight minutes either side of half-time as Topsy Ojo and Steve Shingler produced slick finishes to help them establish a 27-23 lead.
Dawidiuk responded with the host's third try while Taylor kicked 15 points, but it was a penalty from replacement Freddie Burns which eventually sealed the hosts' win after Exiles full-back Tom Homer, who racked up 15 points of his own, had tied the scores with his third penalty. The visitors still had the chance to steal the win right at the death but a delicate chip from creative fulcrum Dan Bowden evaded Ojo's grasp.
Booth admitted he had felt the game was heading for a draw, but remained pleased by the efforts of his players. He said: "If you had said it would be four tries each and a draw, three points each, myself and (Gloucester coach) Bryan (Redpath) would have taken it and it looked like it may go that way. It came down to a couple of key bounces of the ball, if that ball bounces forward at the end then Topsy scores and it's over.
"There was a good positive approach from both sides and it was going to come down to some key moments and executions. But I am absolutely delighted and proud of the effort of our team out there because they put themselves in a position to win the game and that's all you can ask every week."
Gloucester's win extended their unbeaten home record in the Premiership to 22 games and coach Redpath was pleased to see his side claim a third win from five games despite losing their healthy lead.
"In the first half we gifted them 10 points with the interception try and a dull penalty which got them into it, and credit to them when they came back," he said. "Topsy's try before half-time was great interplay and the next try after half-time was a great chase of a kick and they hit a great line to go ahead.
"It was a tough game, it could have gone either way. It was a good game of rugby and I am glad it was like that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery