Twelvetrees puts Gloucester clear
Billy Twelvetrees demonstrated his versatility as Gloucester put daylight between themselves and the foot of the Premiership table.
Billy Twelvetrees demonstrated his versatility as Gloucester put daylight between themselves and the foot of the Premiership table with victory over London Irish.
Twelvetrees, who started at flyhalf with regular No.10 Freddie Burns on the bench, kicked four penalties, a conversion and set up Jonny May for a try as they responded well to Fergus Mulchrone's early score.
London Irish got back into the contest when the impressive centre Eamonn Sheridan crossed for his first try for the club.
However, Burns came off the bench to slot a further penalty and while Sheridan scored his second try of the game, Shane Geraghty failed to land the penalty that would have secured a draw.
London Irish wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard with the simplest of tries as a quick penalty allowed Topsy Ojo to feed Ian Humphreys with the fly-half putting Mulchrone in for the opening score.
Humphreys made no mistake with the conversion but the gap was narrowed to four points on seven minutes when Twelvetrees slotted his first penalty of the match.
A second Twelvetrees penalty, after Blair Cowan was penalised for not releasing, reduced Irish's lead to 7-6 at the 20 minute mark.
The England centre demonstrated the quality of his boot again with a series of probing kicks.
And it was the 25-year-old's quick-thinking that put Gloucester ahead when he spotted the ball out the back of a ruck and quickly supplied May to charge over the tryline.
Twelvetrees converted to put the Cherry and Whites 13-7 ahead and after starting the half so poorly, the visitors ended on the front foot with a third penalty from the England man.
Humphreys failed to reduce the gap five minutes into the second half when his penalty attempt drifted wide after Ben Morgan was penalised.
In a two minute spell both sides were held up short of the tryline with Ofisa Treviranus first threatening the line for Irish before Gloucester broke and from Twelvetrees' cross-field kick lock Elliott Stooke was denied.
Gloucester extended their lead further when Twelvetrees kicked a fourth successful penalty, maintaining his 100 per cent record in the match.
Yet just as the game appeared to be creeping away from them, London Irish hit back with Sheridan powering through a Mike Tindall tackle for his first Premiership try.
Geraghty, on for Humphreys, missed the conversion but Irish were back within seven points at 19-12.
Gloucester reshuffled with Freddie Burns coming on for Tindall and taking over at No.10 with Twelvetrees reverting to the centres.
Burns produced a fine kick to pin Irish back and when they were penalised soon after the fly-half slotted his first three points of the match.
Irish came again with Sheridan using his power once more to cross for a second time with nine minutes to go and Geraghty converted to close the gap to 22-19.
Geraghty was handed the chance to level the scores with four minutes to go but his kick was wide and Irish's hopes of earning more than a losing bonus point went with it.
For London Irish:
Tries: Mulchrone, Sheridan 2
Cons: Humphreys, Geraghty
Pen: Twelvetrees 4, Burns
London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Ian Gough, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Jimmy Stevens, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew; 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Andrew Fenby, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Ed Hoadley
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (captain), 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Matt Cox, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Paul Burton
TMO: Graham Hughes