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Exiles break their duck on the road

Sat, 05 Jan 2013 17:44
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London Irish eased their relegation fears when they batted their way to their first road win of the season.

George Skivington scored an inspirational first-half double, as Gloucester slipped to just first their loss at Kingsholm since the opening day - the Exiles winning 18-12.

* In the other Premiership fixture on Saturday Northampton Saints got their play-off charge back on track against Exeter Chiefs.

In the process they won their first Premiership match in three attempts - thanks to scores from Ken Pisi, Soane Tonga'uiha and GJ van Velze.

The result saw the Saints move into fourth place - behind the top three of Leicester Tigers, Harlequins and Saracens - sneaking past Gloucester.

We look at Saturday's action!

Exeter Chiefs 19-30 Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints got their play-off charge back on track against Exeter Chiefs and in the process won their first Premiership match in three attempts thanks to scores from Ken Pisi, Soane Tonga'uiha and GJ van Velze.

After narrow defeats against Harlequins and Saracens in their last two outings - Northampton's ability to challenge for silverware this season has been questioned in recent weeks but Jim Mallinder's men produced a performance to remember at Sandy Park.

12 points from the boot of Gareth Steenson kept Exeter in contention, with Stephen Myler adding 15 of his own, but decisive scores from Tonga'uiha, Pisi and van Velze took the game away from the Chiefs, who suffered their first home league defeat of the season.

Exeter, looking to claim their first Premiership-win in three attempts, started like an express train and dominated possession and territory in the first ten minutes, with England flanker Tom Johnson particularly prominent.

After rejecting a long-range penalty attempt minutes earlier - Exeter took the lead through a Gareth Steenson penalty as the pressure finally told on Northampton on 13 minutes as England forward Phil Dowson was penalised at the breakdown.

Losing the lead seemed to kick-start Northampton into life and England full-back Ben Foden was the architect as the Saints crossed for the game's opening try four minutes later.

After missing out for England through injury during the autumn internationals, Foden staked his claim for an international recall as he created a score on 17 minutes for Ken Pisi to cross out wide and score.

Stephen Myler added the extras as Exeter's impressive start to the game started to unravel and Northampton earned a foothold in the fixture.

It could have got even worse for Exeter just minutes later as Foden again created an opening out wide but this time his pass was wayward to Jamie Elliott and the chance was lost.

After a shaky start in the scrum, Northampton's front row, which included the now fit-again Dylan Hartley and the returning Tonga'uiha, starting to dominate and on 27 minutes the Chiefs were penalised and Myler extended the Saints lead to 10-3.

Despite Exeter playing the bulk of the rugby, it was Northampton who extended their lead on 35 minutes as Exeter were penalised for collapsing the scrum and Myler slotted over the penalty.

It could have been worse for Exeter just minutes earlier but Myler struck the woodwork with a penalty from in front of the posts as Northampton began to dominate up front.

Trailing 13-3 with just three minutes to play until the interval, Saints hooker Hartley was sin-binned for not rolling away, allowing Steenson to bring Exeter back into the game with his second successful penalty of the match.

Steenson brought Exeter to back within four points of Northampton just three minutes after the break with a penalty but just 90 seconds later Myler responded with a kick of his own.

After a Gonzalo Camacho break, Luke Arscott looked set to burrow over for Exeter in front of the posts but was stopped just a couple of metres short of the line - Northampton were penalised from the resulting breakdown and Steenson slotted his fourth penalty of the afternoon.

Northampton effectively killed the game on 58 minutes with a score from Tonga'uiha - the prop burrowing over after a catch and drive, with Myler adding the extras.

After Exeter were penalised for offside, it was a brave call from Hartley to go for the corner but his gamble paid off as Tonga'uiha touched down to make it 23-12.

With 16 minutes remaining, Sireli Naqelevuki brought Exeter back to within touching distance as he blasted over for a score out wide, with the conversion from Ignacio Mieres taking the Chiefs to 23-19.

Northampton sealed the win in the 75th minute with a carbon copy catch and drive score - with South African GJ van Velze burrowing over, with Myler adding the extras.

The scorers:

For Exeter Chiefs:
Try:
Naqelevuki
Con: Mieres
Pens: Steenson 4

For Northampton Saints:
Tries:
Pisi, Tonga'uiha, Van Velze
Cons: Myler 3
Pens: Myler 3

Yellow card: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 37)

Teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (captain), 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Aly Muldowney, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Luther Burrell.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege, Ashley Rowden
TMO: Geoff Warren.

Gloucester 12-18 London Irish

London Irish batted their way to their first road win of the season - behind George Skivington's inspirational first-half double - as Gloucester slipped to just first their loss at Kingsholm since the opening day.

Despite missing England international Alex Corbisiero, who failed a pre-match fitness test, Irish went at the Gloucester scrum - their Achilles heel last week against Leicester - and were rewarded with just their third win in the Premiership, welcome points in a run of four games against the league's top four teams.

In a game dogged by mistakes, Irish were the sharper and deserved their half-time lead and for the second time in as many weeks, the golden boot of Freddie Burns was not enough to save Nigel Davies' men who face an in-form Saints side next week.

Their win means they push Nigel Davies' side out of the play-off places, and the Gloucester coach will need his side to rediscover their confidence with the ball in hand if they are to regain their spot.

Marshalled by Australian scrum-half Pat Phibbs - coached by Brian Smith at the ACT Brumbies - the Irish played with greater patience and balance than they have on the road this season.

But Gloucester came out of the blocks quicker, regaining the kick-off and moving the ball through several phases before forcing a penalty from close range.

League leading goal kicker Burns doesn't miss much these days, and knocked over the first points with just a minute on the clock.

Where Smith's men have folded in the past, the early score sparked life into a team featuring several changes up front - notably the introduction of gritty Canadian international Jebb Sinclair at openside, who was impressive in slowing Gloucester's hard-running back row unit around the fringes.

Gloucester's problems at the set-piece looked to have followed them back from Welford Road, as a Corbisiero-less pack drove them off a scrum in front the Cherry and Whites own posts and Steven Shingler kicked the penalty.

While the home side appeared unable to keep possession, Irish looked comfortable with the ball in hand. Driving deep into Gloucester territory they varied their attacks, hitting Yarde wide on the left before tightening things up - with second-row Skivington diving over from close range on 22 minutes.

Burns hit back with a long range effort to keep his side in touch, with his boot also keeping them in the territorial battle dropping a series of well-weighted kicks over Yarde's head and into the corner.

However errors meant Davies' men were unable to exert any real pressure from those positions, and after ex-Irish prop Dan Murphy coughed up possession 10m from the tryline, Phibbs hammered a kick long down field.

Shane Monahan fumbled the ball under pressure from a great chase by England man Jonathan Joseph - playing on the wing, to fit Shingler into the centres - who flicked the loose ball up to the ever-present Skivington for his second.

Shingler added the extras with a minute remaining to put his side up 15-6; their two-try half meaning Irish went in at half-time with their highest 80-minute points total away all year.

After the break, Irish started brightly but lost fly-half Ian Humphreys to a concussion. A bruising Ben Morgan run down the left touchline lifted the crowd, and his side, and worked Gloucester back within range.

Irish were caught slowing the ball and Burns obliged with the boot, putting his team within six, before adding another from the 10m line minutes later.

Shingler missed on opportunity to respond immediately, but with the clock ticking down Tom Homer stepped up - after Gloucester were again whistled for an offence in the scrum - and nailed a 40m kick to put his side six points clear.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Pens:
Burns 4

For London Irish:
Tries:
Skivington 2
Con: Shingler
Pens: Shingler, Homer

Yellow card: Will James (Gloucester, 77)

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (captain), 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Molenaar, 23 Martyn Thomas.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Jonathan Joseph, 13 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (captain), 4 George Skivington, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Referee: David Rose.
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Gareth Copsey.

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