Aviva Premiership round-up: Booth uses defeat to herald glorious trials of youth
Sunday 02 October 2011
Toby Booth, the London Irish head coach, is usually good for a relatively colourful quote or two, and he was on form after his team lost 33-30 to Gloucester at Kingsholm in a match of six tries.
"The innocence of youth provides a lot of things," Booth mused, after watching strong performances from a number of young players enjoying the four-yearly dollop of extra exposure that is afforded – necessitated – by the World Cup."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."
One such young player, the back-rower Alex Gray, upset Newcastle when he moved south in the summer, after impressing as England captain at the Under-20 World Championship in Italy. He scored the first try of yesterday's match, before a Tom Voyce try and a penalty try helped put the Cherry and Whites into a 23-10 lead. Tries for the Exiles, either side of half-time, by Topsy Ojo and Steve Shingler made it 27-23 before Darren Dawidiuk scored and Tim Taylor converted for 30-27 to Gloucester. Tom Homer kicked a penalty to make it 30-30 before Freddie Burns kicked Gloucester back in front. The bounce of the ball denied Ojo a winning try at the end of the match.
Booth said: "If you had said it would be four tries each and a draw, three points each, myself and [the Gloucester coach] Bryan [Redpath] would have taken it. There was a good positive approach from both sides. I am absolutely delighted and proud of the effort of our team because they put themselves in a position to win the game and that's all you can ask every week."
Booth could try asking for a win, of course. But who's counting?
The answer to that question could be "Leicester's Jeremy Staunton". The fly-half scored all his team's 25 points at the Recreation Ground against Bath but his try, conversion and six penalties were out-pointed by tries from Dave Attwood and Matt Carraro, a conversion and two penalties from Sam Vesty and two penalties and a conversion from Tom Heathcote. Heathcote's second penalty made it 26-25 to Bath late on – Staunton could have made it 28-26 even later on, but he missed a penalty.
Leicester are now in the decidedly unfamiliar situation of having lost four of the five Premiership matches they have played, a dread fact salved only by the fact that Northampton have the same record but fewer bonus points. Winless, not to say hapless Newcastle, the only team the Tigers have beaten this season, play Wasps at home today.
At the other end of the table Saracens won 17-13 at Exeter, which given the absence of some of Saracens internationals and Exeter's strong start to the season counts as a very good result indeed for the champions. Owen Farrell scored a try and kicked a penalty and Charlie Hodgson scored a try and kicked two conversions for Sarries; Richard Baxter scored a late try for Exeter and Ignacio Mieres kicked eight points. Saracens are second in the table, four points behind unbeaten Harlequins.
In the RaboDirect Pro12, in the Veneto, Benetton Treviso beat the Scarlets 20-10 and climbed into the top six. Ludovico Nitoglia and Brendan Williams scored the Italian side's tries and Kris Burton kicked 10 points. For the Scarlets, the Wales Under-20 wing Liam Williams scored his first try in senior professional rugby and Dan Newton kicked a conversion and a penalty.
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