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Gloucester 12 London Irish 18: Skivington double gives Exiles important win

Gloucester 12 London Irish 18: Skivington double gives Exiles important win

By
Andrew Baldock, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:22 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:22 GMT, 5 January 2013

Relegation candidates London Irish ripped up the Aviva Premiership form book by stunning title play-off contenders Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Irish had already lost three times to their hosts in domestic and European competitions this season, but two first-half tries from lock George Skivington helped the Exiles exact revenge.

Centre Steven Shingler added a penalty and conversion, while England international Freddie Burns booted four Gloucester penalties, yet Irish deserved a first Premiership away victory this season at the seventh attempt, and t was sealed by full-back Tom Homer's late penalty.

George Skivington scores the winning try for London Irish

Reaching for the line: George Skivington scores the winning try for London Irish

It took them five points above bottom club Sale Sharks, who tackle Saracens tomorrow, and sent them into a five-week league break with renewed optimism of avoiding the drop.

In contrast, a losing bonus point was scant consolation for Gloucester after a four-month unbeaten home record disappeared.

They were architects of their own downfall in many ways, taking wrong options, lacking the patience to break Irish down and losing composure when clear attacking opportunities presented themselves.

While the west country club remain firmly in the play-off picture, they could have few complaints about a defeat that underlined the Premiership's tight, intense nature this term.

Former England skipper Mike Tindall captained Gloucester in the absence of finger injury victim Jim Hamilton. Tom Savage filled Hamilton's second-row berth, while loosehead prop Dan Murphy took over from Nick Wood and Rob Cook returned at full-back.

Skivington was the difference between the two sides at Kingsholm

Scramble: Skivington was the difference between the two sides at Kingsholm

Irish included England centre Jonathan Joseph on the wing – Sailosi Tagicakibau and Shingler were rugby director Brian Smith's preferred midfield partnership – but England prop Alex Corbisiero failed a late fitness test and was replaced by Max Lahiff.

Burns booted Gloucester into a second-minute lead, yet Irish were not daunted by the size of their task, and after Shingler landed an equalising penalty they deservedly went ahead.

Gloucester were guilty of trying to run before they could walk, throwing out ambitious passes that were invariably spilled, with Burns guilty inside his own 22 by lobbing an ill-conceived ball to wing Charlie Sharples that Irish almost capitalised upon.

The visitors' opening try, though, arrived after 23 minutes when a spell of concerted pressure near Gloucester's line resulted in Skivington powering over. It was Irish's first touchdown for almost five hours of Premiership rugby.

Shingler missed the conversion, but Irish continued to grow in confidence and they capitalised on another Gloucester blunder after Burns had kicked his second penalty.

England's Ben Morgan batters the Irish line

Powerhouse: England's Ben Morgan batters the Irish line

Gloucester wing Shane Monahan was the guilty party, making a hash of trying to gather the ball just inside the home 22, and Irish scrum-half Pat Phibbs scrambled possession to Skivington, who touched down unopposed.

Shingler landed the conversion, and Gloucester could have few complaints about a 15-6 interval deficit as Irish threatened a first Premiership away win since they triumphed at Worcester last April.

The only blot on Irish's landscape was an injury to England squad hooker David Paice, who limped off on the stroke of half-time and was replaced by former Gloucester forward Scott Lawson.

Irish's Sailosi Tagicakibau evades a Gloucester tackle

Raw pace: Irish's Sailosi Tagicakibau evades a Gloucester tackle

Gloucester boss Nigel Davies made a triple substitution just 10 minutes into the second period, taking off Murphy, scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and flanker Akapusi Qera, but there was no immediate sign of his team showing an improvement.

Irish were content to keep their defensive shape and absorb Gloucester's heavy-duty runners, although Burns gave the home side hope when he completed his penalty hat-trick after 58 minutes and then slotted a fourth penalty three minutes later.

Shingler, having missed four of his six shots at goal, was replaced by Homer, and his 73rd-minute penalty from 40 metres meant Gloucester were sunk.

And they finished the game with 14 players when lock Will James was sin-binned by referee David Rose following a melee that spilled over the touchline in front of the main grandstand.

Tom Homer manages to get the ball away

Releasing: Tom Homer manages to get the ball away

England could be set to host Under 21 European Championships in 2013

England could be set to host Under 21 Euros in 2013 if crisis worsens in Israel

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UPDATED:

23:44 GMT, 20 November 2012

UEFA would consider asking England to be on stand-by to host next summer’s Under 21 European Championships if the Israel crisis escalates.

The draw for Euro 2013 will be held in Tel Aviv next week and will be attended by a delegation from the FA which includes Under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce.

If the worst case scenario develops, England could end up staging the eight-nation competition in June as they lost out to Israel in the initial bidding process.

Possibility: England lost out to Israel in their bid to host Euro 2013

Possibility: England lost out to Israel in their bid to host Euro 2013

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has told England they need to start praying if they are ever to host the World Cup again.

The FA lost out to Russia in the battle to host the 2018 tournament and cannot bid to host the finals until after the 2026 event, Blatter has suggested to the London Evening Standard that only the Lord can save their dream, saying: ‘One of the gods up there, the god of football perhaps, knows. I will ask Joseph Ratzinger [the Pope].

'I will ask him. Every morning he is speaking with the Lord, so he will tell me.'

Ian Bell misses birth of baby son

Bell misses birth of baby son despite leaving India before end of first Test

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UPDATED:

00:33 GMT, 21 November 2012

Ian Bell’s hopes of rushing home to be present for the arrival of his first child were dashed when his wife Chantal gave birth to a boy without him.

Bell attracted criticism in some quarters for leaving Ahmedabad on Monday — with permission — before the end of England’s first-Test defeat by India after hearing that his wife had gone into labour.

But his decision to bring forward his flight after his active participation in the match had ended proved in vain as Joseph William Bell appeared early.

Missing out: Ian Bell did not make it back to England in time for the birth of his son

Missing out: Ian Bell did not make it back to England in time for the birth of his son

Bell, who had seemed distracted on tour and was out to an awful shot first ball in the first innings of the first Test, will now spend a few days at home with his wife and son before returning for the third Test in Kolkata.

Jonny Bairstow is expected to replace Bell in the team for Friday’s second Test.

Chris Ashton replaces Ugo Monye for Australia Test

Ashton back in England squad for Australia clash as wing replaces Monye

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UPDATED:

18:51 GMT, 13 November 2012

Saracens wing Chris Ashton has replaced Ugo Monye in England's 23-man squad for Saturday's Cook Cup international against Australia at Twickenham.

Ashton was suspended for England's 54-12 victory over Fiji last weekend but he has been recalled to face the Wallabies, against whom he has scored three tries in three Tests.

The inclusion of Ashton is the only change to the match-day squad made by head coach Stuart Lancaster, who has decided not to rush Jonathan Joseph or Alex Corbisiero back into the squad.

Welcome back: Ashton has replaced Monye after missing the Fiji game

Welcome back: Ashton has replaced Monye after missing the Fiji game

Corbisiero played his first game in five months for the London Irish last weekend after recovering from a knee injury and Lancaster wants him to get another club game under his belt.

Joseph is fit again after shaking an ankle injury but he will join Corbisiero in being available for London Irish in their LV= Cup game against Leicester.

Lancaster will finalise his starting XV on Thursday morning but Ashton and Charlie Sharples are the likely wing selections, with Monye released to play for Harlequins.

Over the line: Monye scored a try in England's thumping win over Fiji on Saturday

Over the line: Monye scored a try in England's thumping win over Fiji on Saturday

Wasps lock Joe Launchbury is pushing hard for a first Test start while Thomas Waldrom appears to have retained the No 8 shirt after Ben Morgan was among 13 players released.

Manu Tuilagi has not trained this week and he spent all day today undergoing rehabilitation on a sprained foot but England are confident he will be fit to play on Saturday.

Lancaster said: 'We had to make some tough decisions within the 23 and we are in a good position to be able to select from a largely fit squad.

No rush: Lancaster wants Corbisiero to get another club game under his belt

No rush: Lancaster wants Corbisiero to get another club game under his belt

'Alex Corbisiero has played once in five months so it is important that he goes back and has more game time for London Irish.

'Jonathan Joseph has come through training but Brad Barritt and Manu did well in the centres and, similar to Alex, it would be good for him to get some game time.

'It is tough on Ugo, who misses out this time, but Chris has been excellent in training and Charlie is rewarded for his performance at the weekend.'

If Joseph and Corbisiero both come through the weekend unscathed, they will be strong contenders to feature for England against South Africa a week on Saturday.

France usurp England in fourth place in IRB rankings

Tough World Cup draw looming for England after France usurp fourth place in rankings

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UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 12 November 2012

England have slipped out of the important top four places in the world rankings following France's win over Australia last Saturday.

The International Rugby Board confirmed the rankings, placing Stuart Lancaster's team in fifth place and France fourth after the first round of matches in the Autumn series.

France jumped a place after they defeated a higher-ranked country, while England beat Fiji, who are placed 14th.

Allez Les Bleus: France beat Australia last week while England saw off Fiji

Allez Les Bleus: France beat Australia last week while England saw off Fiji

Allez Les Bleus: France beat Australia last week while England saw off Fiji

The rankings will be used next month to decide the seeded countries for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The top four countries – presently New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France – will head up the four pools and will be kept apart when the draw is made.

Meanwhile, London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph is back in training after recovering from an ankle knock and could be fit to face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

England warned about Australia backlash – Stuart Lancaster

Beware the backlash! Aussies will be hurting, warns England coach Lancaster

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UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 12 November 2012

Stuart Lancaster warned England must be prepared for an Australian backlash in Saturday's Cook Cup showdown.

Hours after England opened their QBE autumn campaign with a 54-12 win against Fiji, the Wallabies crashed to a thumping 33-6 defeat to France in Paris.

Lancaster expects the wounded Wallabies to bounce back with a vengeance at Twickenham on Saturday.

Heavy load: Tom Wood stretches using a weight bar during the England training session

Heavy load: Tom Wood stretches using a weight bar during the England training session

'We recognise the challenge that is coming our way,' Lancaster said.

'There is bound to be a reaction from the weekend's performance against France. They are a side with character and resilience.

'I am sure if they have got a few players coming back as well they will be a different animal on Saturday. We need to make sure we are ready.'

Alex Goode lifts weights during the England training session

Alex Corbisiero performs pull ups

To the limits: England's players are put through their paces during a training session

Australia endured a welter of criticism for their performances in the Rugby Championship but responded to that by pushing New Zealand to the brink in Brisbane before departing for Europe.

Lancaster will prepare England to face that side, who drew 18-18 with the All Blacks, rather than the Wallaby outfit that folded in Paris.

'It was only a couple of weeks ago they
pushed the All Blacks and we are expecting that type of performance this
weekend,' Lancaster said.

Tough task: England will face an Australian side hurting after defeat to France

Tough task: England will face an Australian side hurting after defeat to France

'In this situation there is bound to be a reaction. They are a nation full of resilience in adversity and we need to be ready for it.'

Alex Corbisiero and Jonathan Joseph have both returned to the selection mix for England this week after recovering from knee and ankle injuries respectively.

Lancaster and the England coaches will decide tomorrow whether Corbisiero is ready for Test match action, after only his first start of the season yesterday.

Lift it: Chris Ashton joined his England team-mates in the gym after Saturday's victory

Lift it: Chris Ashton joined his England team-mates in the gym after Saturday's victory

Corbisiero played 62 minutes for London Irish in their LV= Cup win against Sale Sharks and Lancaster may look to give him another run at club level.

That would leave England with Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola as the loosehead options, with Corbisiero potentially returning to the squad for the tougher scrummaging battle South Africa are likely to pose.

Easy does it: England cruised to victory over Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday

Easy does it: England cruised to victory over Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday

'(Forwards coach) Graham (Rowntree) went to watch the game yesterday. He was pleased with how (Corbisiero) went but it was his first start in five months,' Lancaster said.

'We have got a decision to make and we will make it after training tomorrow. It is fair to say that is not a huge amount of time.

'Also, Mako did well for us in the game and what he has done in training has been impressive. He has been very accurate in everything he has done.'

Main men: Manu Tuilagi celebrates with Chris Robshaw as he scores their seventh try against Fiji

Main men: Manu Tuilagi celebrates with Chris Robshaw as he scores their seventh try against Fiji

Joseph, who was unavailable for the Fiji game with an ankle injury, trained with England today for the first time since the summer tour of South Africa.

Centre Manu Tuilagi (foot) and lock Geoff Parling (shoulder) both sat out training but Lancaster was confident they would be fit to face the Wallabies.

Chris Ashton to miss Fiji Test through suspension

EXCLUSIVE: Ashton set to miss autumn opener against Fiji through suspension

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 31 October 2012

England are resigned to being without their most potent attacking weapon for the Test against Fiji on November 10, as Chris Ashton is set to miss the game through suspension.

The Saracens wing has been summoned to attend a hearing on Wednesday night after receiving three yellow cards so far this season.

National coach Stuart Lancaster and his assistants are having to plan for the grim scenario of being without the predatory finisher for the first of their four QBE Internationals at Twickenham.

Suspension: Ashton (left) has picked up three yellow cards this season

Suspension: Ashton (left) has picked up three yellow cards this season

Ashton has made an encouraging start with his new club since a summer move from Northampton – with the England coaches particularly impressed by a try he scored in the Heineken Cup demolition of Edinburgh.

However, he was sin-binned in the games against London Irish and Exeter, and a citing from the match against the Saints last Saturday counts as another yellow card. The up-shot is a hearing at 7pm and the likelihood of a one-game ban.

The 25-year-old cross-code international has scored 15 tries in his 26 England appearances to date, although he has not touched down in his last nine Tests.

Blow: England are already without a host of first choice players

Blow: England are already without a host of first choice players

Losing him would be a further setback for Lancaster, who is already without another member of the first-choice back-three unit – Ben Foden, who is recovering from ankle surgery.

In addition, Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley appears certain to miss the entire autumn campaign with a knee injury, while Courtney Lawes and Jonathan Joseph are seemingly destined to be unavailable for the Fiji game.

If, as expected, England are without Ashton for their first Test of the season, the path is clear for Ugo Monye to win a recall to the starting XV, with Charlie Sharples of Gloucester on course to claim the other wing place.

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes ruled out of England"s game with Fiji

Blow for England as Hartley and Lawes ruled out of Fiji Test and face race to be fit for rest of series

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 30 October 2012

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have been ruled out of England's opening Autumn international game with Fiji through injury.

And Hartley is in danger of missing the entire series after damaging his knee playing for Northampton at the weekend.

Hartley will definitely miss the opening game against Fiji on November 10, as will his Northampton team-mate Courtney Lawes while Jonathan Joseph remains a significant doubt.

Ruled out: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes sit out training with England physio Phil Pask and will not play against Fiji

Ruled out: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes sit out training with England physio Phil Pask and will not play against Fiji

Hartley has not officially been ruled out
of the series but he faces an uphill battle to be available and back to
Test-match pace by the time New Zealand arrive at Twickenham on
December 1.

'Courtney Lawes has got an injury that will probably be one or two weeks and Dylan will be a couple of weeks after that,' Lancaster said.

'They won't be available for the Fiji game. They are reasonable injuries.

'Dylan could potentially be available towards the end of the series but a lot of things have to happen before then.

Plenty to think about: England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be without a number of key players

Plenty to think about: England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be without a number of key players

'We have got to get him some game-time for Northampton before we can pitch him into international rugby, particularly if you look at our last two games against South Africa and New Zealand.'

Hartley's injury – added to those already suffered by Bath hooker Rob Webber and Harlequins' Joe Gray – leaves England choosing between the uncapped Tom Youngs and David Paice for the number two jersey.

Joseph will not return to training until next week after suffering an ankle injury, although England are more confident over the fitness of prop Joe Marler, who has a slight hamstring strain.

Hartley and Lawes will continue treatment with Northampton while nine other squad members have been available for Premiership duty this weekend.

Keeping the armband: Chris Robshaw will captain England

Keeping the armband: Chris Robshaw will captain England

Anthony Allen, Mike Brown, Phil Dowson, Ben Morgan, James Haskell, Jordan Turner-Hall and Ben Youngs were all released by England Tuesday night.

Worcester prop Matt Mullan and Harlequins lock George Robson, who were initially called up as injury cover for Joe Marler and Lawes, will train with England tomorrow before returning to their clubs.

Lancaster insisted those who are in Premiership action this weekend are still in consideration for the Fiji game on November 10.

'Some return for further treatment from their club and others to get some game time to put a marker down for selection for when we meet again on Sunday after the weekend's games,' Lancaster said.

'We will not finalise selection for the Fiji game until after training next Tuesday and so for those going back and playing this is a real opportunity to stake a claim with a really big performance.'

England suffer injury crisis ahead of autumn internationals

Eye, eye captain! England's skipper-elect Robshaw
OK after boot blow

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 28 October 2012

England have called up London Irish hooker David Paice and Harlequins lock George Robson to attend their training camp in Burton-on-Trent, as a spate of injuries threatens to derail their plans for next month’s QBE internationals.

A damaging weekend culminated in the summoning of two pack reinforcements amid fears that first-choice hooker Dylan Hartley suffered ‘significant’ knee damage in a tackle by England team-mate and former Saint Chris Ashton during Northampton’s 16-6 home defeat by Saracens on Saturday.

Another member of the Saints pack, lock Courtney Lawes, also limped off with a knee problem.

Shiner: Chris Robshaw suffered a nasty eye injury on Sunday

Shiner: Chris Robshaw suffered a nasty eye injury on Sunday

The grim bulletins for head coach Stuart Lancaster continued on Sunday, as Exiles centre Jonathan Joseph withdrew in the closing stages of his side’s loss to Harlequins at the Madejski Stadium to have strapping applied to his right ankle.

Yards away on the visitors’ bench, England captain-elect Chris Robshaw was forced to watch the second half through his right eye, as the left one was swollen shut by a cut which required stitches.

The flanker’s injury was caused by an accidental boot when he was tackled by Joseph, but despite his inability to play on, Quins insisted that the damage to Robshaw’s face was superficial and there was no suspicion of concussion.

‘It’s fine, it’s just a bit of bruising, the sight is starting to come back,’ he said afterwards.

Blow: Robshaw receives treatment after taking a boot to the eye

Blow: Robshaw receives treatment after taking a boot to the eye

Joseph’s condition will be assessed on Monday. His director of rugby, Brian Smith, said: ‘He tried to soldier on but we didn’t want to take any risks as he is in Stuart’s plans. We made a bigger-picture decision to look after his ankle. We don’t know the extent of the damage but it can’t have been too bad as he walked off.’

After learning that England required Paice’s services, Smith added: ‘It’s a well deserved call-up. He will bring a quality set-piece game and Stuart is lucky to have him. He’s not a young player so he won’t choke under pressure. His opportunity is long overdue.

'My understanding is that Dylan (Hartley) has a significant injury and England anticipate David being with them for the whole series.’

Injury worry: Jonathan Joseph is also a doubt for England's matches

Injury worry: Jonathan Joseph is also a doubt for England's matches

Harlequins’ director of rugby, Conor O’Shea, confirmed that Robson has also been summoned, saying: ‘He is excited but he had booked a holiday for Monday week, so I’m not sure his fiancee will be very happy! I hope George gets an opportunity because he is desperate to play for his country.’

England gathered at the FA’s new national football centre, St George’s Park, on Sunday night, to prepare for games against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

As well as the bad news about Hartley, Lawes and Joseph, Lancaster will await updates on Ben Youngs, who pulled out of Leicester’s game at Gloucester with a tight hamstring, and Wasps lock Tom Palmer, who has a calf strain. James Haskell withdrew from the Wasps team against London Welsh with a stomach bug.

Chris Foy: On your bike, Cowan! No rest for the Gloucester new boy

On your bike, Cowan! No rest for the Gloucester new boy

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 7 October 2012

On your bike, Cowan!

Former All Blacks scrum-half Jimmy Cowan arrived at Gloucester on Monday and was immediately told to get on his bike.

Cowan, a 59th-minute substitute in Saturday’s 16-10 win over Bath, had only been in the West Country for a few hours before he was put to work by his new club’s fitness staff.

The World Cup winner said: ‘They put me on the bike and told me to do 20km in 30 minutes. That’s what I needed to get a few cobwebs out of my system. I am well and truly over the jetlag now.’

Straight into the action: Gloucester's Jimmy Cowan was given little time to bed in

Straight into the action: Gloucester's Jimmy Cowan was given little time to bed in

Jonny’s roar talent

Player of the week: Jonny Wilkinson
Days after revealing his ambition to earn selection for the Lions tour next summer, Wilkinson backed up his words with more match-winning deeds for Toulon.

The ex-England fly-half kicked 21 points — five penalties and three conversions — as his club routed Top 14 title rivals Biarritz 36-9 away from home on Saturday to return to the league summit.

Top Toulon: Jonny Wilkinson

Top Toulon: Jonny Wilkinson

Critics eat humble pie as rookies do Aussies proud in wooden spoon clash

Coach of the week: Robbie Deans (Australia)
Credit where credit is due, the Kiwi in charge of the Wallabies went into Saturday night’s Rugby Championship wooden spoon decider against Argentina in Rosario well aware that his job was on the line.

He sent out an injury-ravaged team full of rookies and they did a heroic job in adversity to earn a 25-19 win.

Joseph: I want my England spot back

Jonathan Joseph inspired London Irish’s shock demolition of Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton on Saturday and then revealed his desire to resume his England midfield partnership with Manu Tuilagi.

The 21-year-old Exiles centre scored his side’s first try and had a hand in two others as Irish claimed a stunning 39-17 win at the Madejski Stadium.

Asked afterwards about keeping hold of the Test No 13 shirt he wore in South Africa and linking up again with Tuilagi, Joseph said: ‘I would love to get that spot.

'Manu is a great player at 12 or 13. I do like playing with Manu. If we get the opportunity we can gel quite well together.'