London Irish take the points at Kingsholm

First published in Sport

GLOUCESTER director of rugby Nigel Davies rued his side’s inability to compete at the scrum as the Cherry and Whites fell to a shock 18-12 home defeat to London Irish, writes Harry Davies.

George Skivington did the damage as his two tries cancelled out Freddie Burns’ four penalties to end London Irish’s run of six straight Aviva Premiership defeats.

But it was Gloucester’s problems at the set piece that once again had Davies worried, as Steven Shingler was allowed to kick two three-pointers following penalties at the scrum.

It was the second week running that the Cherry and Whites have failed to impose themselves at the scrum, with Leicester Tigers’ Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole doing the damage as Gloucester lost 17-12 at Welford Road the previous weekend. Davies insists his front-row must improve how they play the referee.

“We didn’t turn up, emotionally we didn’t turn up,” he said. “You couple that with the error count and that’s the reason we failed.

“I said to the players, remember how this feels – because I don’t want to feel like this again. We showed we cannot slip off the accuracy and intensity. We got it wrong, and it’s not acceptable.

“You lose games in rugby, it’s how you come back from that. We are still very much a work in progress.

“It’s very difficult at scrum time. It’s difficult for the referee, it’s difficult for the players.

“It’s a real mess at the moment. It can go either way, it really is a toss of a coin and it’s truly frustrating.

“It’s the same for everybody, but generally in the game there’s a huge frustration in the scrum.

“We just need to get some momentum, and we’ve got some players coming back behind the scrum which will freshen it up a bit.”

In turning over Gloucester on their home patch, London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith drew a line under two heavy defeats at the hands of the West Country club – shipping 76 points – which came less than a month ago.

Smith knew he was leading his side into a battle at Kingsholm, the difference this week was the play of his forwards – led from the front by Skivington.

“Both forward packs had a good crack at each other and it was won up front,” said Smith.

“It’s a very different circumstance to when we came down here three weeks ago – we brought down kids and it got a bit messy.

“They brought a big pack – particularly the back row – and we picked a big pack so we could go toe to toe with them. They put a lot of heat on the ball and it was tight, but we came out on top.

“The team showed a lot of character – we held out with our starting side as long as we could, and we just toughed it out.

“What pleased me most is the big W that’ll be beside the result – I’m sick of seeing Ls.

“George (Skivington) was immense. He’s stepped up in what’s been a pretty tough season and led from the front.

“Winning at Kingsholm will give us a bit of momentum. We’ve got a few weeks now to freshen up some of the boys – then we’ll load up for the big run home in the league.”

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