Full-time: London Irish 52 Gloucester 18By Alan Manicom
May 04, 2012
Eight tries, two sending-offs, a yellow card and a massive free-for-all - London Irish's final game of the season had everything.
Marland Yarde (2), Darren Allinson, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Jonathan Joseph and Delon Armitage, in his last game for Exiles before joining Toulon, went over in a bonus-point victory that secured seventh place in the Aviva Premiership.
And full-back Tom Homer kicked 22 points to win the Golden Boot as the league's highest scorer this season with 278 points.
Tom Voyce scored a try in each half for Gloucester, who continued their worst run for 11 years by crashing to a sixth consecutive defeat.
But the game was overshadowed by a huge fight in the 47th minute, sparked by a bust-up between London Irish hooker David Paice and Gloucester second-row forward Jim Hamilton.
Both had been shown yellow cards and were walking off the pitch when Hamilton reacted to something that Paice had said by throwing a couple of punches.
That prompted players from both sides to get involved in a mass brawl that will no doubt be looked at by the citing officer.
When the dust had settled referee Dave Pearson brandished red cards to Hamilton and Paice, who left the pitch with blood streaming from his head.
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith said: "There was an off-the-ball incident where Jim Hamilton pushed David Paice in the back and knocked him to the ground.
"When you are not expecting to be pushed in the back you get a whiplash effect.
"David Paice then went to the next ruck and cleaned Jim Hamilton off the ball, which was all legal.
"Jim Hamilton started throwing punches from that ruck and going after David Paice for some reason.
"Whether it was to wind his team up for because he was captain and they had probably got revved up at half-time.
"But Jim Hamilton was the instigator and then when they were both yellow carded, Jim Hamilton punched David Paice twice in the head and split it open.
"David Paice has a dozen stitches in his forehead and Jim Hamilton has a lot to answer for.
"It is not the 1970s. It is not free for all.
"It was very disappointing because it was a great game and the crowd were thrilled with the rugby.
"But it was a blight on the game. Jim Hamilton is 6ft 10in and David Paice is 5ft 10in.
"As captain of the Gloucester team Hamilton's behaviour is unacceptable.
"He is a test player, but I would be surprised if he plays any test rugby this summer because it was a disgrace what he did."
Gloucester, who later had Mike Tindall sinbinned, had no answer to Irish's explosive backs.
And Smith said: "It was a great performance. I was delighted that we gave Bob Casey the send-off he deserved in his last game before retiring.
"We built a score early on with Tommy Homer's boot and then they scored the first try.
"The most pleasing thing was the boys were keen to show we are not just a team that relies on Tommy Homer's magic boot.
"We went on to get three tries in the first half - some of what we did was outstanding, playing from deep."
Smith believes that Joseph's display has booked his place on England's summer tour to South Africa.
He said: "Jonathan Joseph is as good as there is as a 13 at the moment.
"England are lucky to have him and I wouldn't be surprised if he is named to go on the tour."
And Smith insists that there are others worthy of consideration.
He said: "Anyone who scores points like Tom Homer is ready, but whether Stuart will take a third full-back I am not sure.
"I really believe we are going to miss Delon Armitage because he is a try scorer.
"Delon Armitage did some outstanding things. If you compare him with the current England wingers, Delon should be on the wing."
Joseph continued to enhance his reputation with an outstanding display.
And Smith continued: "He did some beautiful things down that left edge.
"I understand Stuart Lancaster was here today and I am sure he will be thrilled with what he saw.
"He is a great prospect."
Irish were 34-11 up at the break and Smith said: "Toby Booth challenged the boys at half-time to go on with it and we managed to break away and score three more tries.
"And probably Rochey's chip-kick for Marland Yarde will be spoken about in the bars at the Mad Stad for a long time to come."
To see how it unfolded click below:
Bob Casey skippered London Irish in his 235th and last match for the club before retiring.
The 6ft 8in second-row forward was the only change to the team that started their previous game, a 25-16 win at Worcester Warriors a fortnight ago.
Casey came in for Matt Garvey, who dropped to the bench.
Also making their farewell appearances for the club before moving on retiring were full-back Delon Armitage and replacements Paul Hodgson, Kieran Roche, Faan Rautenbach and Adrian Jarvis.
Scotland international Scott Lawson, who will be joining Exiles next season, was on the Gloucester bench with Darren Dawidiuk preferred at hooker.
Tom Voyce was selected at full-back for the visitors, while Jonny May partnered Mike Tindall in midfield as Tim Molenaar was unwell.
Ollie Phillips got a start on the wing.
Tom Savage came in for Peter Buxton on the blindside flank, while Alasdair Strokosch moved across from No. 8 to openside for Gloucester.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Delon Armitage, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Joe Ansbro, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 David Sisi, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Kieran Roche, 21 Marland Yarde, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Paul Hodgson.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Voyce, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Jonny May, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Ollie Phillips, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Matt Cox, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton (c), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Ian Clark.