London Irish 31-40 Gloucester, Aviva Premiership
Gloucester win away to London Irish
September 8, 2012
Burns steers Gloucester to victory
Freddie Burns produced a superb individual display to propel Gloucester to a 40-31 win against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
The England Saxons international notched 25 points with the boot and created the try which swung the match to ensure the Cherry and Whites bounced back from their opening day defeat to Northampton.
England No.8 Ben Morgan scored Gloucester's opening try, his first for the club, just before half-time and wing James Simpson-Daniel and Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera crossed for further scores after the break. Topsy Ojo, Halani 'Aulika and Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary grabbed tries for the Exiles, while fly-half Steve Shingler hit four penalties and a pair of conversions to finish with a personal haul of 16 points.
Irish took the lead with a fourth-minute penalty from Shingler after he was handed the kicking duties ahead of last season's top Premiership points scorer Tom Homer who began with his left knee heavily strapped, but the visitors equalised through Burns five minutes later when Irish strayed offside on their 22 line.
Shingler kicked the Exiles ahead with his second penalty in the 19th minute and two minutes later the home side grabbed the opening try. Shingler figured twice in the build-up before releasing Homer, who put his grubber kick behind the Gloucester defence before Ojo won the race for the loose ball.
Burns cut the gap to two points with two penalties before Shingler responded from two metres inside the Gloucester half after the visitors were penalised for pulling down line-out jumper Bryn Evans. Irish withdrew the struggling Homer in the 34th minute and replaced him with England Under-20 star Anthony Watson.
Burns pulled his fourth penalty attempt wide four minutes later but landed a conversion to send Gloucester in at half-time with a 16-14 lead after Morgan exploited some appalling defending by Irish to score his side's first try. He took ball from the base of a ruck, went between hooker Scott Lawson and brushed off O'Leary before crossing.
Burns landed his fourth penalty five minutes into the second half after the Irish scrum was yet again penalised. Irish were level again two minutes later when Gloucester's defence cracked, allowing number eight John Fisher to run through before offloading to Aulika, who forced his way over for his first Exiles try since arriving from Championship side Leeds during the summer. Shingler converted to put the Exiles 21-19 ahead, but Gloucester edged a point in front with Burns' fifth penalty from just inside the Irish half as the home scrum, forced into rapid reverse, was penalised once more.
Irish finally got their scrum right and it led to O'Leary shooting in for their second try after the diving Charlie Sharples conceded the five-metre set-piece as he slid over the line desperately defending a through kick from Jonathan Joseph. Shingler again converted.
Burns kicked Gloucester level again after Irish offended at the breakdown before Shingler booted Irish back in front before Burns squeezed down the left touchline for Gloucester before passing inside to present Simpson-Daniel with what proved to be the decisive 72nd-minute try, converted by the fly-half. Gloucester struck again two minutes later when Qera forced his way in from close range.
Freddie Burns was on target with seven penalties and two conversions as Gloucester beat London Irish © Getty Images
Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies is now confident that the win will give his team the confidence to continue to improve.
"One of the strengths we have in the squad is that we can put out a very competitive 23-man squad who can all make a big contribution. We will take a lot of confidence from this result," he said. "Freddie was fantastic today. He's still young although he appears to have been around for a long time. He's really enthusiastic and it's great to work with somebody like that. We have a relatively young side - particularly the backline, which is new. They are learning how to gel and evolve and it will get better."
For London Irish the defeat continues a disappointing start to the season which began with high hopes for a new regime under director of rugby Brian Smith. The Exiles have now lost two from two and face a London derby against London Wasps next Saturday.
"It's disappointing but the big positive is that it was a much improved performance from last week," Smith said. "From an attack point of view we were a lot better today. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game - last week we weren't in the game. From a defence point of view we just need to close things out a bit better. To concede two late tries is disappointing but there's things to work on. We need to tidy up things up front and sort out the infringements."
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