A series of missed chances saw Gloucester's 'A' side lose out 26-9 to London Irish in the second team tournament on Monday night.
Irish made the most of their opportunities and sealed the win with two first half tries. Gloucester's points came from the boot of Rory Teague.
It was a fast and physical encounter, and two defensive errors late in the first period gave the home side two tries and a 20-6 half time lead.
Commenting on www.gloucesterrugbyclub.com Academy manager Carl Douglas said: "It was a fast and physical game, and Irish disrupted a lot of our phase ball, and we allowed them to get in amongst us in the tackle area. There wasn't much in it, but those two errors before half time proved costly. We broke their defensive line on a number of occasions throughout the game, but failed to convert the chances."
Gloucester's chances included Luke Narraway going over the try line from the back of a scrum, but knocking on, Mark Foster making a superb break to go one on one, but losing ball, and Terry Sigley put James Merriman away up the left wing, but ball was turned over.
"Irish did well and took their chances," added Douglas, "It was a frustrating game, and we needed to control the ball better."
In a lively opening quarter there was little to choose between the two teams, who fielded some of the players that had come on as replacements in Saturday's match at Madejski Stadium.
After 20 minutes the score was six points each as Ross Laidlaw for the Exiles and Rory Teague for Gloucester traded penalties with two successful kicks each.
Irish had a lucky escape in the 13th minute when a last ditch tackle by Topsy Ojo prevented Rory Teague from touching down under the posts after he had intercepted an attempted pass in midfield by Ross Laidlaw.
There was skill and pace about Irish's first try in the 22nd minute. Kevin Barrett fired a pass from a breakdown 20 metres from the Gloucester line on the left. Ross Laidlaw took the pass, drew the defence and created space for Rodd Penney to burst through and touch down under the posts. Laidlaw converted.
Stung by the score Gloucester rallied, using the rolling maul to tie-up the Irish pack and create gaps in the home defence. Irish resisted and the ball was cleared time and again by a fine display of touch kicking by Laidlaw.
The Irish fly half was at the heart of all the home side's attacks at this point. When Kieran Roche stole a Gloucester lineout in the 37th minute, the ball was passed to Laidlaw who side-stepped one defender, before racing 20 metres through midfield and passing to Topsy Ojo. When the right wing receives the ball at pace, there are few defenders in the country that can catch him and so it proved as he raced through to touch down for his team's second try. Laidlaw added the conversion to give Irish a half-time lead of 20-6.
In a competitive second half both teams continued to play enterprising rugby as they sought to create elusive try-scoring opportunities. Both defences held, Irish in particular had to resist an intense period of Gloucester pressure in the third quarter. The visitors' only return was another Teague penalty.
Inevitably, the replacements made first by Irish and latterly by Gloucester disrupted the pattern of play. Laidlaw kicked his third penalty in the 47th minute to expend his team's lead to 14 points.
As the clock would down, it was Gloucester that were in the ascendant as second rows Tom Skelding and Jon Pendlebury drove their team on. Simon Amor's switch to scrum-half added an edge to their attack. However, they met an Irish defence that was in uncompromising mood and resisted all that the West Country men could throw at them.
The final score of the game fell to man of the match Laidlaw who added his fourth penalty in the 79th minute for a final score of 26-9.
London Irish: A Frost; T Ojo; R Penney; N Mordt (captain)(rep: D Coughlan, 40); N Whitworth; R Laidlaw; K Barrett; J Campbell; D Paice (rep: T Wells, 40); 3. R Skuse (rep: R Cripps, 65); G Johnson; K Roche; R Thorpe; D Danaher (rep: M Haslett, 55); P Murphy (rep: J Grimes, 40).
Gloucester: O Morgan; M Foster; J Whittingham; R Teague; J Bailey; S Amor (captain); N Runciman (rep: D Tuohey, 67); C Bezuidenhout; R Elloway (rep: N Curnier, 56); T Sigley; T Skelding; J Pendlebury; D Miller; J Merriman (rep: T Rawlins, 56); L Narraway.
Gloucester's final Zurich 'A' League game of the season is at home to Saracens on Monday 4 April at Kingsholm, kick off 7.30pm.
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Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell is expecting a tough test this weekend against a Sale Sharks side who have been playing some good rugby in recent weeks, but told the local media this week that the whole squad are determined to finish the season as positively as possible.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
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