Unhappy afternoon for Irish

25 November 2000
Gloucester overcome conditions
Gloucester 26 London Irish 6
LONDON IRISH suffered a thoroughly miserable afternoon visit to Kingsholm.
Last season they were comprehensively beaten 40-15. This time they were again on the wrong end of an unrewarding effort but sadly it finished with a sickening blow. Their captain Connor O’Shea was stretchered off with a serious injury to his ankle which brought the match to an abrupt conclusion. The visitors were twenty points in arrears and not seriously in contention but it was a sad end to the game..
Pre-match mini-rugby, in almost continuous rain, gave way to a torrential downpour which quickly turned the playing surface into a virtual mud bath. With the ball like the proverbial bar of soap, handling errors were inevitable ad consequently much of the game became a lottery of mistakes. Under such conditions you could well understand and accordingly make allowances for mistakes but even so some of the referee’s decisions were impossible to comprehend.
Mr Geraint Ashton-Jones may have a Royal Navy background but he was certainly all at sea with his performance. No one likes to make mistakes or get things wrong and I am sure any official is no different but on the day he managed to make more mistakes than the players did in the atrocious conditions. You can blame the weather for some of the player’s errors but I don’t know how to make allowances for the referee’s incomprehensible decisions. Gloucester’s pack was in good driving form and produced a strong first half to keep the pressure on the Irish. The unrelenting pressure eventually told with a string of penalty opportunities. Simon Mannix not surprisingly missed a couple but the visitors continued to offend to their cost.
Chris Catling surprised everybody with some of his best ever touch finders to pin Irish deep back in their own territory. A basic line out error saw the Irish miss their man with a long throw to the tail where unmarked Gloucester skipper Kingsley Jones gratefully accepted the gift and scored the try.
What was it we were always told back in the dim and distant days of schoolboy rugby? Make sure with a short throw on your own line every time!
Mannix further punished the Irish misdemeanours with successful penalty kicks tokeep the home side’s score ticking along nicely.
Form winger Tom Beim snapped up a sharp try after the ball squirted out of ruck and with the profits from the boot of Mannix Gloucester ended the first half with a lead of 23-3. The only contribution for Irish was a sole penalty kick from Jarod Cunningham.
A combination of sound defence from the home side and a dire display of naivety and incompetence in the Irish line out had to be seen to be believed but they never looked like scoring a try. No wonder they have only managed to score eleven tries so far this season—the worst record in the Premiership. Quite how they have managed to win their last seven games remains something of a mystery on this showing.
Realistically the visitors were almost dead and buried in the Kingsholm mud at the break but although Gloucester tried to increase the pressure from the re-start, they contrived to miss at least two clear cut chances and although Tom Beim had a try disallowed there were no more tries.
The regular ritual of replacements was played out but the dreadful conditions had the last word as the game became bogged down in a soggy stalemate.
The sad note at the end with Connor OShea’s injury and paramedics tending the unfortunate player did allow the referee to get one decision right—his final decision.
An understandable one on this occasion. He blew up for no-side.