Homer helps relight Exiles' Premiership survival bid

But coach Smith urges England to 'manage' Alex Corbisiero's recurring knee injury

The parade of Gloucester greats who gathered at Kingsholm to remember the late club captain Mike Nicholls before London Irish's 18-12 win in the Premiership saw a series of scrums that bore little relation to what the likes of Phil Blakeway and Mike Burton knew in the 1970s and 80s. Front rows buckling inwards due to mistimed "hits" and dodgy binding made for the usual resets and penalty awards.

The last of these gave Tom Homer, the London Irish full-back who had stopped kicking of late to protect a sore knee, a chance from the 10-metre line that he was called on to take in case Steve Shingler, who had earlier converted two out of five attempts, missed it. It flew over in style and Irish's win was confirmed when Gloucester blew an attacking maul and Freddie Burns, their newly capped England fly-half, failed to find touch with a penalty.

"I'd have run on and given Tom the tee myself if necessary," said Brian Smith, with the levity of a director of rugby whose team had ended a seven-match losing streak in all competitions and won for the first time in seven Premiership matches since early October to greatly improve their prospects of avoiding relegation. They had not prevailed at Kingsholm since January 2006.

But Smith was much less happy over the state of Alex Corbisiero's knee. The prop has played one and a half matches for London Irish this season – in the LV Cup – while starting twice for England against South Africa and New Zealand. The recurrence of the injury that waylaid Corbisiero on tour with England last summer has prevented him playing since facing the All Blacks on 1 December. Coupled with rumours of him moving to Northampton, it lent a financial aspect to Smith's comments. "His knee's a mess," Smith said. "We've put considerable resources into that position and we haven't had much value from that spot so far this season. We certainly hope we get some but there's the Six Nations looming and the way it's gone lately he's been right for England and not right for London Irish. That hurts him and it certainly hurts us. [Current London Irish loosehead] Max [Lahiff] is learning quick but he shouldn't be asked to carry the load he's carrying. He [Corbisiero] has got degenerative knee issues and England have got to manage it; we're certainly doing our part to manage it and wherever he ends up in the future, that's going to need to be managed."

Burns's passing and chip kicks were a little too loose, too early, and Irish's George Skivington scored two tries in the first half to raise his career total in the Premiership by a third; the second-row forward scored six in 124 appearances over nine seasons with Wasps and Leicester.

"It's only one game but it's a big win for us," Skivington said. "We've had a sit-down at the turn of the year, just as players, and if we're honest probably a few people have not been working as hard as you should. We've got a young squad and a new squad. I've just turned 30 and there are players who think I'm an old, old man – they're asking me about the war. But I'm not making excuses; we're halfway through the season and there does come a point where there's no one else to blame. The coaches can give you a game plan but if you're falling away in the last 20 minutes and your mind's going elsewhere there's no one else to blame."

The remaining nine rounds of the Premiership are spread over four months. The Amlin Challenge Cup and LV Cup take over for Irish and Gloucester next month – or "four games on the trot now that effectively don't mean that much to us", as Skivington put it.

The Gloucester captain Mike Tindall's day was lifted by Monbeg Dude, the horse he co-owns with club-mate James Simpson-Daniel and Wasps fly-half Nicky Robinson among others, winning the £51,255 Coral Welsh National at Chepstow. But even that went wrong for some Gloucester players. "I'm not a betting man," said Charlie Sharples. "But we watched the horse get pulled up at Cheltenham earlier in the season and I think that put a few of the boys off betting on it this time." So much for form, in racing and in rugby.

Gloucester: Penalties Burns 4.

London Irish: Tries Skivington 2; conversion Shingler; penalties Shingler, Homer.

Gloucester: R Cook; C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), B Twelvetrees, S Monahan; F Burns, J Cowan (D Robson, 51); D Murphy (N Wood, 51), H Edmonds (D Dawidiuk, 62), S Knight, T Savage, W James, S Kalamafoni, A Qera (M Cox 51), B Morgan.

London Irish: T Homer; J Joseph, S Tagicakibau, S Shingler, M Yarde; I Humphreys (S Geraghty, 50), P Phibbs (J Moates, 74); M Lahiff, D Paice (S Lawson, 39), H Aulika (L Halavatau, 68), G Skivington, B Evans (capt), M Garvey (J Gibson, 74), J Sinclair, C Hala'ufia.

Referee: D Rose (Plymouth).

Six nations player watch

With squads to be announced this week, how are players performing?

Danny Care and Chris Robshaw (both Harlequins and England)

Care lost his England starting place during the autumn but scored a sharp try yesterday to emphasise his current good form. England's current captain, Robshaw, scored too.

Alex Goode (Saracens and England)

Goode has a shoulder problem and Saracens say they are going down the "non-surgical route". In that case he'll be fit, but the final decision will be taken in two weeks' time.

Toby Flood (Leicester and England)

The fly-half is in danger of missing the first game after being cited for an alleged tip tackle on Worcester's Andy Goode on Friday, with a hearing tomorrow.

Alex Corbisiero (London Irish and England)

The prop is battling a recurring knee injury. He was selected to start Saturday's 18-12 Premiership win at Gloucester, but had to withdraw before kick-off.

Tom Croft (Leicester and England)

The flanker back from a neck injury, played 50 minutes on Friday as the Tigers beat Worcester 19-14 in front of England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

George North (Scarlets and Wales)

The wing was not seriously hurt although forced off on a stretcher as Scarlets lost 47-17 to Ulster on Friday, but is still a worry.

Craig Mitchell (Exeter and Wales)

The tight-head prop has given Wales a boost by returning off the bench as Exeter lost 30-19 to Northampton on Saturday after a ruptured bicep in September.

Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues and Wales)

The fly-half converted both tries and landed a penalty in an influential performance as Cardiff beat Munster 17-6 on Saturday.

Jonathan Sexton (Leinster and Ireland)

The 27-year-old registered 16 points, with a try, four conversions and a penalty, as his side won 31-16 at Edinburgh on Friday.

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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own