Irish chase down Newcastle with key win

Date published: March 20 2016

London Irish secured a vital 23-18 win over Gloucester to move five points behind Newcastle at the bottom of the Premiership.

An early try from Halani Aulika helped their cause, before a late score from Blair Cowan sealed the win for the Exiles.

A well-worked try finished off by Henry Trinder had given Gloucester the lead for the first time, before Cowan’'s score gave the home side victory.

Relegation-threatened Irish took just five minutes to strike, as tighthead prop Aulika picked up from the back of a ruck before burrowing his way to the line just to the right of the posts, making the conversion a formality for Greig Tonks.

A quick exchange of penalties saw James Hook open Gloucester’'s account, before Tonks restored his side’'s seven-point lead after 16 minutes.

Despite London Irish pressing for a second try, Gloucester levelled the scores just before the break as number eight Lewis Ludlow powered his way to the try line before Hook converted from the tee.

Tonks restored Irish’'s lead on 51 minutes, before Hook levelled it up once more just three minutes after.

Gloucester then took the lead for the first time in the game on 56 minutes, as Trinder latched on to Hook’'s chip to crash over in the corner, doing well to stay in play. Hook’'s conversion sailed wide of the uprights.

As Gloucester tried their best to keep London Irish away from the try line, two cynical fouls in three minutes saw Yann Thomas and Tom Savage sent to the sin-bin.

With Gloucester down to the 13 men, a try from Cowan coming from the back of a driving maul gave Tonks the chance to give Irish the lead from the conversion, which he slotted excellently.

A 75th minute penalty from the boot of Tonks extended the Exiles’ lead to five points, ensuring a kick at goal wouldn’t be enough for Gloucester to take the lead.

The scorers:

For Irish:
Tries: Aulika, Cowan
Cons: Tonks 2
Pens: Tonks 3

For Gloucester:
Tries: Ludlow, Trinder
Con: Hook
Pens: Hook 2
Yellow Cards: Marshall, Thomas, Savage

London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 5 Matt Symons, 4 Will Lloyd, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Henry Trinder, 10 James Hook, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Lewis Ludlow, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Nick Wood
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Rob Cook

Referee: Matthew Carley 
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Paul Dix
TMO: Trevor Fisher