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.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine