Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Ben Hoskins
# gave it socks
Kidney and Kiss suffer defeat but pick up two points in thrilling first game at Irish
Gloucester recovered a 17-0 early deficit to seal victory at the Madejski Stadium.

DESPITE A 17-0 first-half lead, bottom-of-the-table London Irish were eventually seen off by Gloucester as Declan Kidney and Les Kiss’ reign began in a 33-29 defeat to Gloucester at the Madejski Stadium.

A promising start for Irish saw Josh McNally and Piet van Zyl cross the whitewash for the hosts, while James Marshall went three-from-three with the boot to give Irish a three-score lead on 20 minutes.

They might have added to it, too, as they mounted pressure on the Gloucester line five minutes later only to spill forward at the crucial moment. Nonetheless, the Exiles’ early efforts were heartily applauded by the home faithful who scarcely enjoyed another 25-minute spell like it this season.

London Irish v Gloucester Rugby - Aviva Premiership Ben Hoskins Josh McNally crosses for the Exiles Ben Hoskins

Two minutes later, though, the visitors regained a foothold with a James Hanson try which was converted by Billy Twelvetrees, and just after the half-hour mark, another converted score – this time by Tom Marshall on the overlap – brought Gloucester within three.

Smelling blood, they pounced once more on 36 minutes to take the lead, though Lewis Ludlow’s sniping try out wide wasn’t converted as an enthralling first half wound to a close.

Gloucester had two tries disallowed by the TMO in the opening 10 minutes of the second stanza – the first for crossing, the second for a forward pass – but the writing was on the wall for the hosts.

On 56 minutes, Mark Atkinson smashed through two defenders to go under the posts and stretch Gloucester’s lead to nine as Billy Burns added the easy extras, and some three minutes later Tom Marshall crossed again. Burns, on this occasion, converted from the touchline as Gloucester began to threaten a thumping.

Bottom of the table and 33-17 down, you might have forgiven Irish for throwing their hat at the final 20, but they dusted themselves off to cross through Brophy Clews on 65 after a neat offload by 20-year-old Joe Cokanasiga.

An Irish lineout five metres from the Gloucester line went awry moments later, but on 72 Cokanasiga bounced off several would-be tacklers to go over in the corner and narrow the deficit further – also picking up a four-try bonus point for his side in the process.

Gloucester held out for a 33-29 victory, but Irish’s two bonus points moves them to within 10 of Worcester at the foot of the Premiership table, albeit having played a game more.

For Declan Kidney and Les Kiss it was a defeat which offered a sliver of hope ahead of the final four games of the regular season.

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