Gloucester's hopes of Heineken Cup rugby next season are still alive, just, but only through some good fortune which saw the normally excellent London Irish goal-kicker Barrie Everitt miss three penalties. His boot, so frequently the deciding factor, proved fallible despite starting with three superb kicks in the first half and one long-range miss that bounced off the crossbar.
Such is the paucity of Irish's attacking options that their gameplan is based around kicking goals. When that fails they have little else and this despite a solid pack of forwards, good possession and a passionate home crowd.
The two errant kicks that cost them victory were surprisingly easy, and came close together, midway through the second half with Gloucester a point ahead. Both teams had spent the best part of 12 minutes standing around while the England flanker Andy Hazell received treatment. He lay prone after a collision, seemingly out cold while the medical staff tended him before removing him gingerly on a stretcher. So it was hardly ideal preparation for the penalty kick that Everitt pulled left.
Tempers briefly threatened to flare at this point and minutes later another rumpus offered Everitt a chance, this time from the right of the posts, which he also missed. Kicking really is a lonely job, but what a vital one.
Hazell at least came round once off the pitch, suggesting little serious damage, something that will cheer Andy Robinson and possibly Sir Clive Woodward.
Gloucester are hardly in better shape though, with Andy Gomarsall rested to consider an offer from Worcester and Henry Paul absent injured. His replacement, Brad Davies, showed good touches at fly-half, albeit mixed with some fumbles. But it was the winger, Marcel Garvey who proved the threat.
Having watched four forwards waste a four-on-two overlap - they turned it into a ruck - Garvey showed all what to do when he collected a terrible Kieron Dawson kick: attack to start with, set the ball for the forwards and several phases later pop up in the channel created by good handling from Terry Fanolua and Davies.
The rest was two side steps and a score by the posts. It was simple and effective and if both sides are going to progress beyond mid-table they will need to find more of that attacking thrust.
London Irish: D Armitage; S Staniforth, G Appleford, M Catt, J Bishop (N Mordt, 35), B Everitt, D Edwards (P Hodgson, 57), N Hatley (D Wheatley, 50), R Russell (A Flavin, 72), R Hardwick, R Strudwick (capt), B Casey (N Kennedy, 80), P Gustard (D Danaher, 57), K Dawson, R Reid.
Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, N Mauger, T Fanolua, S Kiole (M Foster, 80); B Davies, A Page; N Wood (T Sigley, 47; N Curnier, 80), O Azam, G Powell, A Eustace, A Brown, J Boer, A Balding (capt), A Hazell (P Buxton, 57).
Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).Reuse content