Aviva Premiership: Freddie Burns' penalty lifts Gloucester over London Irish
Last Updated: 29/12/13 7:38pm
Gloucester secured just their fourth win of the Premiership season after holding off a late fightback from London Irish to triumph 22-19 at the Madejski Stadium.
Jonny May cancelled out Fergus Mulchrone's early score for Irish, with Billy Twelvetrees doing much of the damage for the visitors with the boot.
Eamonn Sheridan bagged two second-half tries for Irish, however, Freddie Burns' 60th minute penalty ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
The victory moves Gloucester 18 points clear of winless Worcester while the losing bonus point means Irish are ten points above the Warriors.
The visitors made a disastrous start and were behind within a minute when Mulchrone easily evaded a hesitant Gloucester defence to cross for a try which Ian Humphreys converted.
After this reverse, Gloucester had the better of an error-ridden opening period and were rewarded by two penalties from Twelvetees.
Humphreys missed a chance for the hosts but they were 7-6 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Edmonds enlivened proceedings by bursting away from a line-out on halfway and kicking ahead, only to be foiled by some desperate cover defence from the hosts.
Gloucester were not to be denied for long, scoring their opening try after 25 minutes. Irish attempted to run the ball out of their own 22 but James O'Connor was robbed of possession 40 metres out, Mike Tindall seized on the loose ball and sent May away on an unopposed run to the line for the try.
Twelvetrees converted before kicking his third penalty for a 16-7 interval lead, before Humphreys' bid to reduce the arrears failed when he missed an easy penalty.
Humphreys was replaced by Shane Geraghty but the attempt to revive Irish fortunes did not immediately pay off as Twelvetrees extended the visitors' lead with another penalty.
However, the hosts showed more fight and were rewarded when Sheridan forced his way over in the corner to trim the deficit to seven points.
With 20 minutes remaining, Gloucester replaced Tindall with Freddie Burns, who kicked a penalty.
Despite this setback, Irish were having their best period of the match and hopes of a comeback were raised when Sheridan crashed over for his second try with nine minutes to go.
Geraghty converted but his penalty miss with three minutes to go proved crucial.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 11
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies admitted life with his team is "pretty stressful with this lot at present."
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea welcomed a "very, very big win" over Exeter at Twickenham.
Jim Mallinder praised George North after the Wales back galvanised Northampton to a 43-25 victory over Bath.