A returning crowd at Kingsholm were treated to an epic seven-try contest that saw Billy Twelvetrees kick a late penalty to seal a narrow 30-28 win over London Irish in a Kingsholm classic.
London Irish took an early lead when Curtis Rona inched over from close range for the opening try, but Gloucester Rugby hit back immediately with winger Santiago Carreras intercepting a loose pass inside London Irish’s half to canter in for the score.
With the scores tied at 5-5, Gloucester Rugby then took the lead when Mark Atkinson broke through the defence before offloading to Val Rapava-Ruskin who released scrum-half Willi Heinz to run in for a try on his 100th club appearance.
London Irish responded with a Paddy Jackson penalty before scoring another close-range try through prop Will Goodrick-Clarke, with Jackson converting the try and then kicking another penalty to put the visitors 18-12 ahead thirty minutes in.
The hosts retook the lead five minutes from half-time when a midfield break from Carreras scrambled the London Irish defence, before full-back Kyle Moyle scored out wide following good hands from the Gloucester Rugby backs, with Billy Twelvetrees adding the extras from the kicking tee.
However London Irish once again came back and when a penalty was kicked to the corner, the visitors took the lineout in before Albert Tuisue crashed over to put London Irish back into the lead at half-time at 25-19.
Ten minutes into second-half London Irish were reduced to 14 men when Rob Simmons was yellow carded for a high tackle, and Gloucester took advantage of the extra man immediately with Louis Rees-Zammitt scrambling over in the corner for Gloucester Rugby’s fourth try of the match.
With the conversion missed London Irish still had a one-point lead, and it stayed that way right up until 65 minutes, with Gloucester’s second-half pressure finally rewarded with a Twelvetrees penalty inching them 27-25 ahead going into the final ten minutes.
In a tense finish a high tackle from Gloucester Rugby captain Lewis Ludlow saw Paddy Jackson kick London Irish back into a one-point lead with a penalty.
With Gloucester under pressure in their own half it looked as if the visitors would see out the match, until Gloucester Rugby won a late penalty kicked down-field and from the resulting play won another penalty with the clock in the red.
With time up and the game on the line Billy Twelvetrees was the coolest man in Kingsholm showing nerves of steel to kick the penalty from 30 metres out, and seal a memorable win for an ecstatic home support grateful to be back watching top-level rugby.
In a match that saw a returning crowd of just over three-thousand fans treated to seven tries, club favourite Willi Heinz marking his centenary appearance with a try was a highlight, but the biggest cheer came with Twelvetrees’ late penalty clinching the win and seeing the Gloucester Rugby team able to toast their passionate supporters’ return with a gutsy win.
Its derby day next Saturday 5th June as Gloucester Rugby welcome local rivals Bath Rugby to Kingsholm.