Gloucester were left facing a scrum-half injury crisis after coming from behind to regain top spot in the English Premiership with a 23-21 win over previous leaders London Irish at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Dave Lewis broke his ankle after the 19-year-old fell awkwardly after a fierce tackle by London Irish No. 8 Chris Hala’Ufia. Lewis had only been on the pitch for three minutes after coming on as a replacement for Scotland international Rory Lawson.
He is now set to undergo surgery with the Cherry and Whites already without Gareth Cooper because of the Wales international’s knee problem.
That means Lawson, unlikely to displace Scotland captain Mike Blair at scrum-half during the upcoming Six Nations, is Gloucester’s only fit No. 9, although Ryan Lamb has proved himself an adequate stand-in when moved from fly-half.
Gloucester fought back from 18-3 down in front of their own fans in what was a morale-boosting win for the southwest side, whose skill and nerve were both called into question following their failure last week to reach the knockout stages of the European Cup.
England international Iain Balshaw’s 50th Premiership try, scored seven minutes from time, sealed a Gloucester fightback built around six Olly Barkley penalties.
London Irish scored tries through wings Adam Thompstone and Topsy Ojo with the remainder of their points coming from the boot of Australian Peter Hewat.
“There has been a lot of stuff thrown around about us in the last month,” Gloucester coach Dean Ryan said. “We could have trotted excuses out, but you cannot hide from pressure.”
“We are not playing our best rugby,” he said. “But we are top of the league — which, in my quiet moments, I find quite amusing!”
“Everyone has been screaming for us to play more, but it is about playing at the right times,” Ryan said.
Irish counterpart Toby Booth said: “We penalized ourselves out of the game. The ball we did have in the second half, we kicked poorly away. We stopped doing the things we had been doing well.”