Gloucester 15 London Welsh 14: Exiles feel the heat of Burns in loss to Gloucester

 

Kingsholm

The heart bleeds for the London Welsh playing squad. They have been kicked from pillar to post by events beyond their control and here, when off-field circumstances demanded that they come away with as many Aviva Premiership points as possible, they were denied by the misfiring Freddie Burns.

Burns, whose star was in such ascendance before Christmas, has struggled to recover his form at fly-half since returning from a knee injury.

He missed almost as many penalty goals as he kicked but his five successes for Gloucester were enough to foil the Exiles, who managed the only try of the game but could not conceal their difficulties at the set scrum.

They now trail Sale Sharks by five points at the foot of the table – exactly the same number of points they have been deducted for fielding an ineligible player, Tyson Keats, earlier in the season. The result of their appeal against that punishment, imposed after a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing, will be known early this week, but the players have stuck to the task ahead of them.

"There is nothing more we can do in the court of law but when we are on the field, we can do something about it," Lyn Jones, the head coach, said. And yet they cannot. Jones felt there was a case yesterday for a penalty try when Jonny May, the Gloucester left wing, deliberately knocked down a pass five metres from his own line when the Welsh had a 2-1 overlap.

Gordon Ross kicked the penalty and May left for the sin-bin. In his absence, the Welsh scored an outstanding try, started by Daniel Browne's precise line of running, augmented by James Tideswell's 20-metre burst and off-load, just short of the line, to Phil MacKenzie. Would the Canadian international have scored, however, if his marker May had been on the field?

The point, though, is that London Welsh, as has been the case all season, have to take every chance they get. Ross, who played well in the absence with a calf strain of Gavin Henson, missed the conversion of MacKenzie's try and a 28-metre penalty soon after that would have given the Exiles a 13‑point advantage.

They now have games against Bath, Northampton, London Irish and Worcester Warriors in which to sustain their place among England's elite. "What's becoming clearer is how many games we need to win and we've always said we needed six from the season," Jones said. They already have four, but how much would a successful outcome to their appeal mean?

Meanwhile Gloucester remain frustratingly outside the play-off places. On this showing they do not deserve to be there but significantly, they found a way to grind out the win they needed. It is not unusual to see players returning from international duty finding it hard to latch on to the rhythm of their club and when the midfield axis involving Burns and Billy Twelvetrees settles down again, Gloucester will recover potency.

They played an utterly forgettable first half, which ended with the scores level at 6-6 for all the efforts of Jim Hamilton to galvanise his players. When the Welsh took an eight-point lead and May was off the field, a home defeat was a distinct possibility but, to their credit, Gloucester took control of the last quarter and gave their tight five full rein.

The Welsh made life easier for them by obstructing a quick penalty tap, which took Burns 10 metres nearer the posts for his fourth goal. No more than five minutes remained when, for the seventh time in the match, the Welsh scrum was penalised and Burns kicked the 20-metre goal which brought his side relief.

Gloucester: R Cook; C Sharples, M Tindall (H Trinder, 68), B Twelvetrees, J May (M Thomas 35-37; sin-bin 44-54); F Burns, D Robson; D Murphy, H Edmonds (K Britton, 56), S Knight (D Chistolini, 56), J Hamilton (capt), W James, P Buxton (T Savage, 46), S Kalamafoni, A Hazell (A Qera, 46).

Pens: Burns 5

London Welsh: S Jewell; P MacKenzie, G Tiesi, S Parker, S Stegmann; G Ross, T Keats (A Davies, 69); T Bristow (B Moss, 76), D George (G Bateman, 77), J Tideswell (A Joly, 64), J Mills (captain), K Kulemin (M Corker, 66), J Cabello Farias, D Browne (A Balding, 74), M Hills.

Try: MacKenzie, Pens: Ross 3

Referee: M Fox (Leicester).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss