Wing Ollie Hassell-Collins scored four tries as London Irish continued their fine run of form with a 24-20 victory over Gloucester.
Stephen Myler converted two with Gloucester responding with tries from Charlie Chapman, Louis Rees-Zammit and Ollie Thorley. Billy Twelvetrees added a penalty and a conversion as the injury-ravaged club crashed to a third league defeat in a row.
In the opening minutes, Danny Cipriani had two kicks charged down to gift Irish an early platform but the hosts failed to capitalise as they chose not to kick a simple penalty. Instead they opted for an attacking scrum but scrum half, Nick Phillips, was robbed of possession for Gloucester to breakaway and win a penalty which Twelvetrees kicked for a tenth minute lead.
The home side’s response was swift with first Franco van der Merwe being held up over the line before Phipps and Stephen Myler neatly combined to provide Hassell-Collins with an easy run-in. Minutes later, Hassell-Collins scored a second. Terence Hepetema and Albert Tuisue did the hard work before the wing brushed off a weak tackle from Chapman to force his way over in the corner.
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Myler again missed the conversion so Irish held a 10-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter with a penalty miss from Twelvetrees being only the notable event of a featureless period up to the interval.
Within three minutes of the restart, Hassell-Collins completed his hat-trick. Gloucester looked threatening in the Irish 22 but a lobbed pass from Twelvetrees was intercepted by the wing, who easily out-paced the cover defence to score.
“My contract is up with the RFU at the end of the season… but I’m fit as I have ever been – that’s what my scores tell me”
– veteran match official Wayne Barnes talks to @heagneyl ahead of his latest Six Nations assignment #WALvFRA ?????????https://t.co/R6KYLJ5svz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 22, 2020
Seven minutes later Gloucester scored their first try when, from a scrum close to the opposition line, the visitors’ pack drove forward to give Chapman the chance to sidestep a defender to score. That try was the impetus Gloucester needed and they soon scored a second. From another close range scrum, Cipriani showed sublime skills to draw in two defenders and allow Thorley to squeeze over in the corner.
Gloucester looked favourites for victory at that stage but their move broke down for Irish to capitalise and with swift handling created a fourth for Hassell-Collins. The visitors immediately replaced Cipriani with Lloyd Evans and they set up a tense finish when Rees-Zammit crossed with eight minutes remaining but Irish had just enough to hang on.
– Press Association
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