Guinness Premiership round-up: Vainikolo try helps Gloucester thump Irish

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The Independent Online

London Irish suffered a damaging 34-20 defeat by Gloucester at Kingsholm yesterday. The result means that the Exiles, who reached last year's Guinness Premiership Final, are unlikely to make the top four again.

Gloucester were 27-3 in front at half-time, thanks to tries by Lesley Vainikolo and James Simpson-Daniel and five penalties and a conversion from Nicky Robinson. Kieran Roche, Steffon Armitage and Dan Murphy scored second-half tries for Irish, one converted by the former Gloucester No 10 Ryan Lamb, and Tom Homer kicked a penalty. Alasdair Dickinson scored a second-half try for Gloucester, which was converted by Robinson.

"Obviously, you want to be in the play-offs," said the Irish head coach, Toby Booth. "If you want to be a consistent top-four team, as we do, you have to deal with the expectation. But we have played poorly at times and not got results."

Gloucester's Bryan Redpath, said: "We've got to go to Worcester now in two weeks' time and prove we are a side who should be in the top six. We regrouped from the middle of December and we've done reasonably well since then.

"It's a case of ifs and buts, I guess, but we will look at the here and now and we've got a big challenge in two weeks' time.

At Welford Road the leaders, Leicester, thumped Harlequins 40-22 after trailing by a point at half-time. Thanks to Northampton's defeat by Saracens, the Tigers are guaranteed to finish top of the regular-season table and play a home quarter-final against the team who finish fourth.

Toby Flood orchestrated things from fly-half for Leicester, scoring a try and kicking four conversions and four penalties. Ben Youngs and Matt Smith also scored and the Tigers were awarded a penalty try. Danny Care, George Lowe and Joe Marler scored tries for Quins and Rory Clegg kicked two conversions and a drop-goal.

Leicester's head coach, Richard Cockerill, said: "It's very pleasing to finish top of the table but we haven't won anything yet so we have to keep focused."

The Harlequins director of rugby, Conor O'Shea, said: "I thought we were magnificent and if we can continue to play with that intensity we will finish in the top four next season."

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In the Magners League, the Ospreys made sure of their play-off place with a 15-11 win over Munster at Thomond Park. The Irish side’s losing bonus point helped in their attempt to stay ahead of the Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh in fourth place

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