Rugby Union

Gloucester coach lauds "outstanding" kicking display from James Hook

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Gloucester boss David Humphreys hailed his side's second-half performance against London Irish as one of their best of the season and reserved special praise for "outstanding" fly-half James Hook for his role in the victory.

The Cherry and Whites looked in danger of suffering a shock defeat in front of a capacity crowd at Kingsholm when Aviva Premiership strugglers Irish established a deserved 14-6 half-time lead.

However, thanks to some precision kicking from Hook and tries from Matt Kvesic and Billy Burns, Gloucester scored 21 unanswered points in the second period to claim a 27-14 triumph.

Hook finished with 17 points from five penalties and one conversion and Humphreys admitted the Welshman's performance in tough conditions was vital.

Director of rugby Humphreys said: "James was absolutely outstanding, it was very difficult to kick in those conditions but he kept the scoreboard ticking over, which is what it's all about.

"We are very fortunate to have some many excellent goal-kickers in Greig Laidlaw, James, Billy Twelvetrees, Billy Burns and Rob Cook."

On a quagmire of a pitch, Gloucester struggled for the majority of the first half which ended with Irish holding an eight-point lead thanks to tries from Ciaran Hearn and Alex Lewington, both of which were converted by Chris Noakes.

Humphreys insists he was not concerned by that deficit at the break, though, saying: "Despite the interval scoreline, there wasn't a huge amount between the teams. Irish took their two opportunities well but in those conditions, it's almost better not to have the ball.

"It became an arm wrestle but we never felt under massive pressure and full credit to Charlie Sharples and Henry Purdy, who relentlessly chased kicks.

"Our second-half performance was outstanding and one of our best of the season as we had to roll up our sleeves to ensure the win."

Looking ahead, with a trip to second-placed Exeter next up as part of testing-looking run of fixtures, Humphreys added: "We are building all the time as we are now winning tight games but we have a tough group of games coming up. Exeter, then a couple in Europe, before Saracens and Leicester."

Irish picked up their first win of the season against Northampton last time out and were dreaming of making it back-to-back victories following their first-half display at Kingsholm.

They were unable to keep Gloucester at bay, though, and with Newcastle upsetting Bath, Irish dropped to the bottom of the Aviva Premiership standings.

Irish head coach Tom Coventry was disappointed not to get anything out of the match but admitted a lack of discipline after the interval cost them dear.

He said: "It would have been nice to get a bonus point as we had parts of the game under control but ill-discipline in the second half really cost us.

"The penalty count in that half was 10-0 against us and it was difficult to play with those figures in those conditions.

"They used the maul very well and the pressure told. Losing Alex Lewington to the sin-bin didn't help as going down to 14 men is never easy."

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