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Gloucester too strong for Irish

Published 09/05/2015

Gloucester were too good for London Irish despite the dismissal of Matt Kvesic
Gloucester were too good for London Irish despite the dismissal of Matt Kvesic

Gloucester overcame the first-half loss of Matt Kvesic to record a remarkable 35-13 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish at Kingsholm.

Kvesic was sent off after 23 minutes for a tip tackle and it will be a huge blow for the club if the influential flanker is ruled out of their forthcoming European Champions Cup play-off games.

Irish were in control of the game prior to Kvesic's departure, but after his dismissal they fell away badly in a thoroughly disappointing performance against only 14 men.

Jonny May, Dan Thomas and Henry Purdy scored Gloucester's tries, with Greig Laidlaw converting and kicking six penalties. Alex Lewington and Andy Short scored tries for Irish, with Chris Noakes adding a penalty.

Gloucester were without Bill Meakes and Ross Moriarty, who were both suspended after incidents in last week's game against Edinburgh. Brendan Macken and Thomas, who made his Premiership debut, were their replacements, with Burns picked at fly-half in place of James Hook.

Irish made three changes in their starting line-up from the one that suffered a heavy defeat at Bath. Tomas O'Leary, Shane Geraghty and James Short came into the back division, replacing Darren Allinson, Fergus Mulchrone and the injured Topsy Ojo.

Irish had a great chance to take the lead within the first minute after Gloucester lost possession at the kick off. Andy Fendy made the initial break before handing on to Blair Cowan, who crossed the line, only for the television match official rule that the flanker had knocked on as he reached for the touchdown.

The visitors maintained their intense pressure, with Gloucester unable to exit their own 22, and once again looked to have scored but Fenby's effort was ruled out by the TMO as he was unable to ground the ball.

Eventually Gloucester broke out from the siege and made Irish pay for the profligacy when Laidlaw's penalty put them ahead in the 15th minute.

Back came Irish as their pack continued to dominate, but the visitors could not take any of their chances. Rarely can a quarter of a match have been so one-sided but, at the end of it, amazingly Irish trailed 3-0.

Gloucester then suffered a huge setback when Kvesic was sent off for a tip tackle on O'Leary. The scrum-half was unable to resume despite receiving medical attention and, after lengthy deliberations between the TMO and the referee, Kvesic was given his marching orders.

There were two further blows for Gloucester when Richard Hibbard and Burns temporarily left the field with injuries, and it came as no surprise when numbers told with Lewington scoring the opening try after a break from Geraghty.

Burns returned and, within a minute, his chip ahead was collected by May for a try, which Laidlaw converted before adding a penalty after Irish replacement, Eamonn Sheridan, was yellow-carded for a deliberate offside.

After the restart, Laidlaw's third penalty put Gloucester further ahead before Sheridan returned from the bin in time to see Noakes, who was now playing at scrum-half, kick a penalty.

Laidlaw surprisingly missed a penalty chance but succeeded with three more as Gloucester, playing with the wind in their favour, still controlled matters despite their numerical disadvantage.

Laidlaw departed after his sixth penalty success but it made no difference to Gloucester's impetus. Dan Leo was yellow-carded moments after coming onto the field, which allowed Thomas to finishing off a driving maul for the try.

The embarrassment for Irish was complete when Purdy won the race to score after replacement Callum Braley had skilfully chipped ahead.

Irish saved some face when replacement Andy Short crossed for a last-minute try, but it was scant consolation.

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