Drop looms for London Irish after narrow defeat at Gloucester’s hands

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first_imgThe Observer Premiership Read more Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news How London Irish are not playing as if similarly bereft is anyone’s guess. Declan Kidney, supremo of Ireland’s previous grand-slammers, assumed control here for the first time and elicited from his new charges a performance of verve but, alas, futility.The Exiles, who are bottom of the table, were 17-0 up in the first quarter and scored two exhilarating tries in the fourth, only to come away with two bonus points. Their relegation fate was more or less sealed already, and, 10 points adrift with four to play, it seems terminally so now.“There’s plenty of good things there,” said Kidney, “but we came out second. I wouldn’t be inclined to let us settle for that. I’ve seen the structure behind the club. I believe it’s strong enough to be in the Premiership”Gloucester were as mercurial as only they can be. A five-try win keeps them in the hunt for the top four but should not conceal the wild fluctuations in their form during this 80 minutes, let alone the whole season.Irish’s dominance of the opening quarter was so complete as to be almost unheard of in the Premiership, let alone by a side so far adrift at the bottom.They were no doubt helped by Gloucester reminding us they remain Gloucester, so brilliant when they want to be but flaky enough to be unrecognisable when they do not. “Coach legs” did not do justice to the torpor of their opening minutes.That 17-0 lead was the least Irish deserved as they tore into their visitors. Josh McNally, back after heart surgery, driving through the latest unconvincing phalanx of defenders for their first try and the lively Piet van Zyl dummying through the fringes of a maul for the second. The 20-minute mark had yet to be reached. Share on LinkedIn … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. For all the excitement of the crowd, swollen by belated St Patrick’s Day celebrations, the feeling remained that it was too early to consider this a home win, especially when the opposition are as capricious as Gloucester. Sure enough, Irish’s lead was gone in a 10-minute blur before the break.The visitors finally gained a foothold from an Irish overthrow and James Hanson was driven over between the posts. Five minutes later, a penalty to the corner preceded a Tom Marshall try.Three minutes later again, Gloucester hit their highest note yet, Marshall and Willi Heinz dazzling down the left, before Lewis Ludlow crossed on the right. Irish were stunned to find themselves trailing by two points.Their decline continued after the break. Two further Gloucester touchdowns in the third quarter, both scored with a certain swagger, opened up a 16-point chasm.Mark Atkinson had just had a try disallowed for obstruction when he dummied clean through for Gloucester’s fourth and it was his run that set up Marshall for a flamboyant dive into the corner for a 33-17 lead.We should have known better than to think that was the end of it. Irish owned the final quarter, Theo Brophy-Clews finishing smartly off an inside ball from Joe Cokanasiga with 15 minutes to go, before the burly winger crashed through three defenders on his way to the left corner.That touchdown earned Irish the two bonus points. It will not be enough, but on an afternoon like this they look every inch a Premiership asset. Rugby union Support The Guardian Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Gloucester Saracens’ problems reflect those of England with Irish shadow looming match reports Read more London Irish Topics Since you’re here… Share via Email The English game is languishing in its own inertia, apparently. Some people should watch it occasionally. This was an extraordinary encounter in a season that has had its fair share, however dispirited the national team may seem. Share on Pinterest Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Reuse this contentlast_img

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