WHILE London Irish may have had the satisfaction of scoring first and last in its final home match of this season's Guinness A League competition last night at Sunbury, it was what happened in between that determined the result.
The scoring action between the 14th and 71st minutes was dominated by Gloucester and one man in particular, Lucovic Mercier as the Kingsholm men eased to a 37-15 victory.
The former French A international scored 22 of his team's 37 points in a display that had all the hallmarks of an experienced, top class out-half. When he was not scoring points Mercier showed his skill with a flawless display of tactical kicking that repeatedly forced the Exiles to retreat and his running game continually gave his speedy backs valuable forward momentum.
Irish competed well in a hectic first half and scored first through Gary Johnson, the powerful lock forward drove over for his try in the right corner. Ed Lewis-Pratt missed the difficult conversion.
Gloucester responded from the re-start by driving into the Irish half and flanker Jamie Vervon broke clear to score just left of the posts. Mercier added the extras to give his team a lead they were to build on for the next 42 minutes.
Mercier stretched the lead with two penalties in the 28th and 34th minutes as sustained pressure by the visitors' forced Irish to defend deep.
The outcome of the game was decided in a three minute spell either side of half-time when Gloucester scored two tries. The first touch down came in the 40th minute through left wing Dan Norton. The second came two minutes after the re-start when Mercier intercepted a pass thirty metres from his own try line and ran straight downfield to score under the Irish posts. He added both conversions to make the score 5-27 to Gloucester.
Five minutes later the Frenchman kicked his third penalty of the game to stretch the lead to 25 points. Justin Bishop was tireless in encouraging his young backs to attack and while he had good support from a hard-working pack, the home team struggled to breakthrough a well organised defence.
Gloucester secured a try bonus point with their fourth try in the 58th minute when Norton touched down for his second of the evening. Mercier added the conversion.
Irish's never say die attitude was rewarded by two tries in the final quarter through replacement flanker Bradley Mockford in the 64th minute and prop Tom Warren in the 71st minute. Both touchdowns were in the right corner leaving Lewis-Pratt with two difficult touchline conversion attempts which drifted wide.
The Exiles continued to take the game to Gloucester through the final minutes but failed to add to their score.
London Irish A: J Bishop (captain), D Howells (rep: L Southey, 62), C Gower, M Humphries, N Canty, E Lewis-Pratt (rep: B Willis, 71), T Parker (rep: R Rees, 40), D Murphy (rep: K Davis, 66), S Mackie (rep: T Standfield, 61), T Warren, G Johnson, L Cudmore (rep: S Gaynor, 71), D Danaher, H Rowlands (sin-bin: 28-38)(rep: B Mockford, 40), R Thorpe.
Gloucester A: J Goodridge (rep: J Copsey, 69), M Foster, R Keil, B Davies (captain), D Norton (rep: J O'Brien, 74), L Mercier, H Thomas (rep: J Williams, 40), J Brookes (rep: C Derrick, 75), R McMillan (rep: R Elloway, 62), J Forster (rep: B Lynch, 73), D Miller (sin-bin: 13-23)(rep: D Wright, 73), D Tuohy, J Vevron (sin-bin: 62-72), J Hooper (rep: B Foden, 62), E Uzonigwe.
Billy Twelvetrees spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the 17-18 loss to Bath Rugby in Round Nineteen of Aviva Premiership Rugby. The Gloucester skipper said he was proud of the desire shown by his team at the end of a tough afternoon.
Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the gutting 17-18 reverse to Bath on Saturday afternoon. The Director of Rugby expressed his pride at the efforts from his players and thanked the supporters for their incredible backing.
Nick Wood spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV this week ahead of Saturday's West Country derby clash with Bath Rugby. The front rower called on the squad to make a strong start and get the Kingsholm crowd behind them
Director of Rugby Nigel Davies admits that it's been a tough week at Gloucester Rugby following defeat at London Wasps last weekend, but that he's looking for his team to rise to the occasion for the huge game at home to Bath Rugby on Saturday.
Speaking immediately after the 36-24 Amlin Challenge Cup defeat at London Wasps on Sunday evening, skipper Billy Twelvetrees admitted that Gloucester left themselves with too much to do despite a spirited second half comeback.
Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the 36-24 defeat to London Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Final. The Director of Rugby rued a lacklustre showing the first half despite a big second half display with ultimately came to nothing on a hugely frustrating night for the Cherry and Whites.
Nick Wood spoke to the assembled media following the vital 14-13 victory over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. The front-rower express his delight at the performance of the front row and challenged his colleagues to push on from the display
Jimmy Cowan spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV on Saturday following the 14-13 win over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. The Kiwi scrum half praised the dominance of the Gloucester scrum in securing crucial penalties which resulted in points for the Cherry and Whites.
Academy back rower Sam Underhill is readying to lead England Under 18s into battle for the final of the FIRA/AER European championships, and took time out of training to chat with the club website from their base in Poland.
It was announced last week that a hugely important deal had been struck regarding the future of European club rugby competition. Gloucester Rugby CEO Stephen Vaughan discussed the decision with the club website.