Gloucester 15 London Irish 3: Balshaw's try boosts Gloucester to leave Irish stuck in mud

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The Independent Online

The grin on the face of Iain Balshaw as he applauded London Irish at the end of a mud-fest was not just because he could look forward to a hot shower, the plumbing was not co-operating. Nor was it the selfish satisfaction of having scored the try that put the match beyond the grasp of the men in dark green.

More likely it was the thought of having seen his new club leapfrog Saracens and Wasps to take third place in the premiership. After the dismal Boxing Day affair at Wasps and having had the game against Newcastle fogged off, the mood needed a boost.

Both sides, as well as playing each other, faced a second opponent in the weather as the rain came down 15 minutes before kick-off and made an already soaked pitch more treacherous. It meant there was little room not only for anything flashy but even over-ambitious.

The limited aspirations of the visitors were obvious from the start, but Gloucester's early adrenalin at least lasted long enough, two minutes and forty-five seconds to be precise, for stand-off Ryan Lamb to recover from mis-fielding a kick. It came off his shoulder and he recovered to make a break through an almost static defence and put Olly Morgan away to kick and chase down the left wing for the only try of the half.

Lamb's opposite number Shane Geraghty was determined to kick nearly everythinginto enemy territory, and it was he who drilled the second of his penalty attempts home to keep the Irish well in the hunt. It was not until the last few, drier minutes of the game that Balshaw decided to run the ball. It was taken on by Mike Tindall, Andy Hazell and James Forrester and finished by Balshaw. Willie Walker's conversion and a penalty put the matter beyond doubt.

Gloucester: Tries Morgan, Balshaw; Conversion Walker; Penalty Walker. London Irish: Penalty Geraghty.

Gloucester: O Morgan; J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall, A Allen, M Foster (rep I Balshaw, 66); R Lamb (rep W Walker, 57), R Lawson (P Richards, 67); C Califano (rep N Wood, 60), M Davies, C Nieto, M Bortolami (Capt), A Brown, P Buxton (rep J Boer, 62), A Hazell, J Forrester.

London Irish: D Armitag (rep M Horak, 78); T Ojo, N Mordt, S Mapusua, J Bishop; S Geraghty (rep B Everitt, 62), P Hodgson; N Hatley (rep D Paice, 56), D Coetzee (rep M Collins 56), F Rautenbach (rep T Lea'aetoa, 70), N Kennedy, R Casey (Capt) rep J Hudson, 62, K Roche, S Armitage (rep O Magne, 74), P Murphy.

Referee: Tony Spreadbury (RFU)

Attendance: 12,500.

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