Premiership: London Irish 9-21 Gloucester

James Short of London Irish tackles Steve McColl of Gloucester
Steve McColl's late try against London Irish sealed victory for Gloucester
London Irish (0) 9
Pens: Geraghty 3
Gloucester (3) 21
Tries: Purdy, McColl
Pens: Laidlaw 3 Cons: Laidlaw

Gloucester avoided a fourth successive Premiership defeat by beating London Irish to climb to eighth in the table.

Greig Laidlaw's 35th-minute penalty provided the only first-half points to give the Cherry and Whites a slim lead.

He added another just after the break and Henry Purdy's unconverted try stretched the lead before it was cut by a pair of Shane Geraghty penalties.

Three-pointers were traded and a tight finish seemed likely until Steve McColl slid in and sealed the visitors' win.

There will no doubt be relief for Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys and his staff as this victory ended a slump stretching back to their last league win on 4 October against Leicester.

London Irish's Madejski pre-New Year blues
Last season, Irish won just once at home in the Premiership before 1 January and this term they are yet to win in front of their own fans.

Leicester too, were the last side beaten by the Exiles in the Premiership. For Irish, it is now five losses in a row in all competitions to cap a miserable month that started with back-to-back LV= Cup defeats.

At a wet and difficult Madejski Stadium, it was perhaps a predictably scrappy first half, largely fought in the scrum.

Most of that took place in the home side's 22 but they somehow survived to the brink of half-time without conceding when Laidlaw finally broke the deadlock.

After his second penalty, his side were rewarded for their earlier pressure with a breakaway try as a turnover allowed Steve McColl to send young wing Henry Purdy clear to score.

Laidlaw could not add the extras and Geraghty made him pay by soon cutting the deficit.

The pair traded further three-pointers from the tee before Geraghty took too long to clear and Gloucester lock Tom Savage charged down his kick. Luckily for the Irish 10, the television match official ruled the ball had just gone dead when Savage grounded it.

But that let-off was short-lived as veteran fly-half James Hook kicked perfectly for McColl to gather and slide home, leaving Laidlaw to seal victory with a comfortable conversion.

London Irish: Homer; Lewington, Mulchrone, Geraghty, Short; Noakes, Steele; Court, Paice, Cross; Skivington (capt), Low; Sinclair, Cowan, Treviranus.

Replacements: Woolstencroft, Halavatau, Aulika, Leo, Gilsenan, Allinson, Griffin, Ojo.

Gloucester: McColl; Sharples, Meakes, Atkinson, Purdy; Hook, Laidlaw (capt); Thomas, Hibbard, Afoa; Savage, Palmer; Kalamafoni, Kvesic, Evans.

Replacements: Lutui, Gibbons, Puafisi, Stooke, Moriarty, Braley, Burns, Monahan.

Referee: Matthew Carley.

Attendance: 5,907.

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