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James Hook helps Gloucester fight back to beat battling London Irish

Published 02/01/2016

James Hook played a key role with the boot for Gloucester
James Hook played a key role with the boot for Gloucester

James Hook kicked 17 points as Gloucester staged a second-half recovery to beat London Irish 27-14 in front of a capacity crowd at Kingsholm.

On a quagmire of a pitch, Irish had deservedly led 14-6 at half-time through converted tries from Alex Lewington and Ciaran Hearn as they sought to make it back-to-back Aviva Premiership wins for the first time in nine months.

Gloucester were struggling at that stage but Hook's fine goalkicking - slotting over five penalties and a conversion - coupled with second-half tries from Matt Kvesic and replacement Billy Burns ensured Irish went home with nothing.

Irish came into the match having ended their six-match losing streak at the start of the Premiership season with a 25-23 win over Northampton last time out and they were able to field an unchanged match for Saturday's trip west.

However, it was Gloucester - who were without the injured Jonny May and Henry Trinder - who took the lead when Hook fired over a third-minute penalty.

The visitors were not behind for long, though, with Irish claiming the opening try of the match in the seventh minute. A clever kick from Brendan McKibbin secured his side a line-out five metres from the tryline, from which Hearn burst past some poor Gloucester defence to score.

Chris Noakes converted to make it 7-3 before Hook responded with his second penalty to reduce the deficit to one point at the end of the first quarter.

Both sides struggled to come to terms with the difficult conditions but with the assistance of the wind, Irish had the better of the opening 30 minutes with most of the play taking place in the Gloucester half.

After 32 minutes, Irish deservedly went further ahead with their second try. A clever cross-field kick from Noakes was gathered by Lewington, who outjumped a static Rob Cook to crash over for the score which Noakes converted for a 14-6 half-time lead.

That was as good as it got for Irish, though, as Gloucester rallied after the break to score 21 unanswered points in the second half and claim the victory.

Within four minutes of the restart, Hook reduced the arrears with another penalty as Gloucester raised their game after their lethargy before the interval.

Ben Morgan returned from injury to replace Ross Moriarty in the back row for the hosts and both wings, Henry Purdy and Charlie Sharples, came close to claiming touchdowns as the pressure mounted on the Irish.

It became even greater when Lewington was yellow-carded as he dived in to save a score but Gloucester got their reward when Hook knocked over his fourth penalty.

The home side made further changes with Greig Laidlaw and Mark Atkinson introduced in place of Will Heinz and Meakes and, with Lewington still absent, Irish infringed again for Hook to put Gloucester 15-14 in front with 20 minutes remaining.

Gloucester continued to be the dominant force in the second half and claimed their opening try through Kvesic, who finished off a line-out drive for Hook to convert.

Within 30 seconds of coming onto the field, Burns rounded off Gloucester's best movement of the match to score his side's second try to provide a final scoreline which was harsh on battling Irish.

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