London Irish 25 Gloucester 25
Louis Rees-Zammit endured mixed emotions in West London as Gloucester had to share the spoils with Irish after mounting a determined fight back at Brentford Community Stadium.
The Wales starlet looked set to be his side’s hero at Brentford Community Stadium when he raced 75 metres for a fine interception try to put the visitors ahead for the first time in the contest.
But the 20-year-old, who toured South Africa with the Lions in the summer, was guilty of a crucial missed tackle on another exciting English youngster, Ollie Hassell-Collins. It allowed Irish to forge over the line with captain Matt Rogerson crossing to earned Irish a draw and denied Gloucester a third win of the Premiership.
Watch: Upper body and core workout
The visitors had overturned an 17-6 deficit to put themselves in the box seat and Gloucester head coach George Skivington admitted: “We put ourselves in position to win the game but then had it taken off us. It’s disappointing but I am still proud of the way the players fought back in the second half. We gave them two soft tries in the first half when we were a bit slack. But we have some real warriors in the side and they showed their character.”
Gloucester were, indeed, a long way off the pace in an opening forty minutes dominated and controlled by an Irish side which is still searching for its’ first victory of the new campaign. Irish could have put the game beyond their rivals but were left rueing missed chances and had to settle for a 14-6 half-time lead.
Veteran Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy used his muscle and momentum to force his way over from a few yards for the opening try with Paddy Jackson kicking the extras. And, after Ben Loader had a try ruled out for a forward pass, Jackson converted as flanker Isaac Curtis-Harris broke through some weak tackling for Irish’s second try.
All the visitors could muster was a couple of quick Adam Hasting’s penalties as Gloucester attempted to raise their game and claw their way back into the contest.They were still half asleep at the start of the second half when centre Curtis Rona rampaged his way into their 22 only to be hauled down short before Gloucester had centre Mark Atkinson sin-binned for killing the ball at a ruck.
Referee Karl Dickson evened things up by sending Irish lock Steve Mafi to the sin bin as Gloucester camped near the home side’s line and were awarded a series of penalties. Ben Morgan surged over for two quick Gloucester tries to put the visitors well back in the hunt – on both occasions dropping down with ball in hand from the back of two driving mauls. Jackson kicked a penalty for Irish in between Morgan’s efforts as the game became stretched on both sides.
Rees-Zammit showed his international predatory instincts to intercept scrum-half Nick Phipps pass and charge clear and over the line untouched. The Lionsman, who misses Wales’ opening Autumn fixture with New Zealand due to the game being outside the official Test window. But having been selected in Wayne Pivac’s squad he will no doubt be wearing the red jersey against South Africa the following weekend. However, his joy turned to despair as he failed to keep a grip of Hassell-Collins as Irish poured forward in search of saving the the match and the ball fell into the hands of captain Rogerson who twisted and turned his way over for a try which earned the hosts a draw.
Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney admitted: “If we had taken all our chances in the first half we would have won fairly comfortably. We created plenty of them but need to take more. It’s disappointing not to get that first win of the season but I am sure it is not too far away. We were excellent in that first half but let our grip on the contest slip."
Watch: Lower body and core workout