Paice’s reck­less red scup­pers his team

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

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.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Ghost­ing through: Billy Burns gets away from the Ir­ish de­fence to score Hang­ing his head: David Paice is sent off by Ian Tem­pest

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