Friday 10 November2006
Madejski - Reading

Sinbad keeps Gloucester on top

London Irish 11 Gloucester 22

THE MADEJSKI STADIUM AT READING has never been one of the more popular or profitable trips away from Kingsholm but this time the Cherry and Whites almost got it right, with a well earned win in a match that was anything but an outstanding advert for Premiership rugby.
As ever this season, Gloucester could only mange to perform for about half the duration of the game but did enough to win without ever getting into top gear to maintain top spot in the league and remain unbeaten in the competition.
Although Irish did not have too much to offer, Gloucester again failed to capitalise on their obvious edge and missed out on a bonus point for the seventh time this season.
Another weekend with the Guinness Premiership devalued by the continued absence caused by the Autumn Internationals in addition to the clubs’ growing injury lists, which make a mockery of the so-called concern for player burn-out – sadly sacrificed at the altar of commercialism.
Gloucester may not be able to play top power rugby for eighty minutes but at least this week they got off to a flyer and played their best rugby in the first quarter.
Gloucester scored two cracking tries during that period the first originated when Ollie Azam robbed a Irish line-out before the ball was taken on by the forwards before Rory Lawson broke clear and off-loaded to winger James Bailey whose strength took him over for the try which Willie Walker converted.
The visitors soon added to that score with another as Alex Brown won a line-out for Azam to peel round on the loop to find Lawson with a well timed pass and the Scot crossed for the second try.
Irish were then able to get back into the game through a series of mistakes and wrong options by Gloucester saw the momentum ebb away as the home side drove up-field before Barry Everitt got some points on the board with a penalty after thirty minutes. 12-3.
Gloucester’s defence was in good shape all evening and Irish had little ambition or flair and resorted to driving play before kicking to breach the cover defence. Riki Flutey touched down from a chip ahead, although he appeared to have knocked the ball on in scoring. The easy conversion was missed. 12–8.
Ryan Lamb’s touch kicking suffered for a time and although Jake Boer was only just short of the Irish line before penalty kicks at goal followed at either end, the score remained the same at the interval.
The first score after the break was absolutely key to the outcome of the match and although Gloucester continued to try and play expansive rugby, the execution was not up to standard as both teams struggled to master the wet conditions and it was Willie Walker who eased the visitors into a 15-8 lead with the final twenty minutes to go.
Mistakes continued to grow and the second half became very much a comedy of errors and Everitt narrowed the gap to 15-11 with another penalty as replacements followed thick and fast.
You sensed that it would take one mistake to decide the issue and so it turned out. Although the Irish pack managed to hold on to the ball for long periods that eventually proved to be their undoing.
A loose pass from Mike Catt was kicked ahead but James Simpson-Daniel spectacularly seized the ball and he raced away from close on half-way to seal the match and break the Irish hearts as he had done so in the European Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham Stoop earlier this year.
There were no slip-ups from the Cherry and Whites with Ryan Lamb regaining his composure to make his touch kicks tell when it mattered as the visitors finished on top.
This was another workmanlike display from a Gloucester side who never reached top form but a very good win none the less.
It owed a good deal to the emerging talent of scrum half Rory Lawson who impressed throughout and it was good to see Mike Tindall enter the fray in the second period after his long injury lay-off.
Two wins during the key November international period is encouraging but it is disappointing that Gloucester still seem unable to inflict the killer blow to finish opponents off and get the extra points.
T.H. 11/11/2006

Pricey's Postscript
The hole was dug, the last rites had been read and the London Irish body lay prostrate awaiting the killer blow.
Unfortunately none of the fifteen players in Cherry & Whites could reach an agreement as to how it was to be delivered and similar to Lazarus, London Irish rose from the dead.
The instrument of execution lay in the three quarters who when they had the ball tore the home team defence to pieces. Sadly after two tries scored, Gloucester decided to improvise.
Top of the table and no games lost but equally as important, no bonus points. The latter commodity was definitely on offer but was once again spurned.
Perhaps they'll learn how to be ruthless in the second half of the season.

J.G.P. 11/11/2006

London Irish - Madejski Snaps
Tries :-Bailey, Lawson, Simpson-Daniel Con: Walker(2), Penalties: Walker
H/T 12-8

J.Bailey rep.(O.Morgan), H.Keil rep. (H.Thomas), J.Adams rep (M.Tindall), J.Simpson-Daniel
R.Lamb, R.Lawson
P.Collazo (rep.J.Forster), O.Azam (rep.R.Elloway), C.Califano
A.Brown , A.Eustace
P.Buxton (C), J.Boer, L.Narraway ( rep.A.Balding)

Referee: - D. Pearson
Attendance - 9,880

London Irish 25 Gloucester 10 - Sunday 20 November 2005

Premiership League record versus London Irish