Gloucester just managed to see off London Irish 38-30 in an exciting and high-scoring encounter at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Despite London Irish having the better of the first half it was Gloucester who went in 17-12 ahead at the break, with Sione Kalamafoni, Charlie Sharples and Shane Monahan, who scored a hat-trick, going over. Two tries from fellow hat-trick scorer Marland Yarde did give the visitors some reward for their first half effort and meant they were well in the game.
An entertaining second period saw Yarde and Monahan complete hat-tricks, and Irish lead for the first time in the game with just over ten minutes to play. Freddie Burns also scored heavily with his boot to clinch Gloucester's win.
Gloucester wasted no time in opening the scoring and went ahead in the opening minute when Kalamafoni went over in the corner, with Billy Twelvetrees converting to give the hosts an early 7-0 advantage.
After eight minutes, the home side extended their lead further. A clever kick from Freddie Burns was seized upon by Sharples who dived on to the bouncing ball in the corner. Shortly after, Gloucester centre, Twelvetrees was replaced with what seemed to be an ankle injury. This lifted London Irish, and Yarde scored the Exiles first points of the afternoon with a magnificent solo effort.
Twelvetrees' replacement, Monahan restored Gloucester's 12-point advantage midway through the first-half with a well worked try. The score was against the run of play as the visitors were having a lot of the ball. Irish's pressure then told just before the break. Gloucester's Jimmy Cowan was shown a yellow card for killing the ball, and after an attacking penalty, Yarde squeezed through - ignoring options on the outside - to reduce the visitors' deficit.
Ian Humphreys slotted the conversion to leave the scores at 17-12. Gloucester started the second half in the same fashion as the first, scoring almost straight from kick-off. Some poor Irish defending allowed Mike Tindall to make a burst down the left before releasing Monahan for his second try of the afternoon.
The Exiles' response was positive yet again. Replacement, Gerard Ellis went over following an excellent break through the middle by scrum-half, Tomas O'Leary. Burns kicked a penalty to leave the score at 25-17, only for the visitors to turn the game on its head just after the hour mark.
Firstly Yarde went over to claim his third try of the afternoon, before Humphreys kicked the conversion and a penalty shortly after to put Irish ahead for the first time in the game at 27-25. The last ten minutes produced even further drama, and after Burns put Gloucester back ahead with a penalty, Monahan went over for his third score of the afternoon. Burns converted to leave the hosts 35-27 ahead.
A penalty for either side through Myles Dorrian and Burns respectively, left the final score at 38-30 in a whirlwind game. The win lifts Gloucester above Exeter in to eighth place, leaving Irish in tenth position.
Tries: Kalamafoni, Sharples, Monahan 3
Cons: Twelvetrees, Burns
Pens: Burns 3
Yellow card: Cowan
Tries: Yarde 3, Ellis
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Tom Young, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Shane Monahan.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary (c), 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Leo Halavatau; 2 Jimmy Stevens, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Gerard Ellis, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 Darren Allinson.
Referee: Steve Lee
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden and Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Rowan Kitt.