Paice’s reckless red scuppers his team
ANGRY London Irish supremo Nick Kennedy slammed his captain David Paice after the former England hooker was red-carded for a brutal assault on Willi Heinz, as a difficult season for relegationthreatened Exiles went from bad to worse.
Kennedy had no complaints with referee Ian Tempest’s decision after Paice, with Irish 20-8 down, rammed his shoulder into the scrum-half’s head off the ball on the stroke of half-time – an error of judgment that will cost him a hefty ban.
Paice will most certainly miss the basement showdown with Worcester in three weeks’ time – a game that already has the look of a ‘must-win’ encounter for the Irish, who now trail the Warriors by six points following their recent revival.
Kennedy said: “It was a definite red card and unacceptable for our group. We pride ourselves on our discipline and he really let the team down.
“We were still in the game at that stage and with 15 men we’d have been looking forward to the second half, with a slight tactical change planned. That went out of the window because you then need to change all your systems and structures
“That said, I was proud of the fight at the end to keep Gloucester out and the pleasing thing is we’ve got a squad with massive hearts.”
Irish came close to scoring early when Alex Lewington’s left wing dash was finished by Scott Steele, but Tom Fowlie had knocked-on.
Gloucester made the most of their reprieve with the opening try on 11 minutes, Henry Purdy making the initial break before Billy Burns burst between Blair Cowan and Max Northcote-Green and offloaded for Lewis Ludlow to go under the sticks.
Tommy Bell’s penalty put Irish on the board before Billy Twelvetrees replied with two of his own to extend Gloucester’s lead. However, Irish hit back with their first try, mounting successive five-metre lineout drives with Petrus du Plessis providing the finish.
Stung by that setback, Gloucester exerted heavy pressure and, after Irish were penalised and Burns had located the corner, Heinz manoeuvred his forwards before swinging the ball left for Twelvetrees to send Burns over.
The flashpoint followed, with Paice handing Gloucester a man advantage at the break, after which Heinz failed to reappear.
Burns added try No.3 straight from the restart, charging on to Twelvetrees’ cut-out pass before ghosting through poor tackles to roar home from 40-metres.
Gloucester’s try-bonus arrived on 53 minutes when Twelvetrees, enjoying a fine game at the heart of their midfield, worked Jake Polledri into space and he required no second invitation to burst past more hesitant Irish defending.
To their credit the Irish fought back and Teofilo Paulo burrowed over for their second try.
That stirred Gloucester into action once more and, after Tom Hudson’s chip had created confusion in the Irish ranks as Ben Vellacott tried to pounce, Burns produced an inch perfect cross-field kick for Purdy to soar high and dot down try No.5.
Irish dug in on their goalline to repel incessant late pressure – a rare moral victory on a horrible afternoon for Kennedy’s men.
Ghosting through: Billy Burns gets away from the Irish defence to score Hanging his head: David Paice is sent off by Ian Tempest