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Blair Cowan strikes twice to ruin George Skivington's return to London Irish

By PA

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A Blair Cowan double set the stage for London Irish as they squeaked past Gloucester 32-26 at the Brentford Community Stadium to move up to sixth in the Premiership and ruin the first trip back to his old club for visiting boss George Skivington.

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The game got off to a flyer with four tries in the opening fifteen minutes – the hosts getting on the board inside the opening thirty seconds. Willi Heinz’s kick was charged down by Adam Coleman who was stopped just short of the line, only for Cowan to finish the job by diving over from a yard and Paddy Jackson added the extras.

Right from the restart, the visitors were on the board, Ollie Thorley challenging the kick-off, Jordy Reid winning possession and palming the ball to Henry Trinder to touch down in the corner despite the best efforts of Nick Phipps. Billy Twelvetrees’ conversion brought the scores level.

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Jonny Wilkinson and Gregor Townsend guest on RugbyPass All Access ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash
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Jonny Wilkinson and Gregor Townsend guest on RugbyPass All Access ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash

Less than five minutes later, Jackson’s looping pass left found a wide-open Ollie Hassell-Collins five metres from the line and he darted to the corner to restore Irish’s lead. Alex Craig was the next to score, Reid breaking through and offloading to the lock who had the simple task of diving over from close range and Twelvetrees’ conversion gave Gloucester their first lead of the game.

After that fast start, neither side posed a threat to each other’s try lines. The hosts came closest when Ciaran Knight was sent to the sin-bin on the stroke of half-time for multiple infringements at a rolling maul, but the home side couldn’t take immediate advantage and they went into the break trailing.

They took advantage less than five minutes after the restart though, Cowan getting his second try of the day after a well-worked lineout routine to give the hosts the lead back. Agustin Creevy was the next on the board, picking up the ball from the back of a rolling maul and barrelling through to the line to extend the hosts’ lead and secure a bonus point.

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Gloucester had hope though soon after, Mark Atkinson touching down from close range after a short spell of pressure, although they faced a nervy moment as referee Ian Tempest had to consult the TMO for a potential knock-on in the process.

Twelvetrees’ conversion cut the lead to just one point but Tom Parton gave the hosts the breathing room they needed inside the last 10 minutes, running in untouched following a blistering run through the line by Hassell-Collins from inside his own half.

Jackson found his kicking boots when it counted to push the Irish lead past a score and he added a penalty soon after to put the game out of reach of Gloucester. A late consolation try from Alex Craig gave the visitors a losing bonus point but they remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

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Blair Cowan strikes twice to ruin George Skivington's return to London Irish

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