OLLIE Hassell-Collins enjoyed an afternoon to remember as he scored all four tries to help London Irish to a dramatic 24-20 bonus-point victory at home to Gloucester in the Gallagher Premiership this afternoon, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles dominated the early exchanges and twice blew chances to open the scoring, firstly when their rolling maul failed to make the most of a fine position five metres out, and secondly when an attempted Nick Phipps pass was intercepted by Danny Cipriani.

The Gloucester fly-half then broke free and after Gloucester took the ball into the Irish 22, they won a penalty which Billy Twelvetrees knocked over to give the visitors the lead.

However, Declan Kidney’s side hit back immediately, Adam Coleman held up over the line before the resulting scrum set a platform for Hassell-Collins to cross for his opening try on the left. Stephen Myler was unable to add the extras, but the home side led 5-3.

Youngster Hassell-Collins – who has taken to top-flight rugby like a duck to water – then doubled his tally and pushed his side further in front with a terrific try towards the end of the first quarter, collecting a pass from Terrence Hepetema and then showing his power and finishing ability to stretch over the line and touch down in the left-hand corner.

The remainder of the first half proved a disjointed affair with Gloucester in particular struggling to show any signs of form, although they did have the chance to cut the arrears with less than two minutes of the opening period remaining.

However, in keeping with their efforts as a whole, Twelvetrees pulled a straight-forward kick from 30 metres out to the left of the posts, allowing the hosts to go into the break with their seven-point advantage in tact.

Gloucester started the second half brightly, but then shot themselves in the foot when an overambitious pass from Twelvetrees was easily picked off by Hassell-Collins, the 21-year-old racing away from inside his own 22 to complete a stunning hat-trick. Myler added the extras and the home side had complete control.

Yet the Cherry and Whites struck back swiftly, their pack driving Irish back with a five-metre scrum which allowed Charlie Chapman to dart over from close range. Twelvetrees slotted the conversion to reduce the deficit to 17-10.

The visitors continued their comeback with a brilliant second try, Ollie Thorley replicating Hassell-Collins’ second effort by squeezing over in the left-hand corner after Gloucester’s scrum again set-up a strong position. Twelvetrees was unable to convert from the touchline, but the gap was now just two points and it was Johann Ackermann’s side who had the momentum.

The topsy-turvey nature of the contest continued almost immediately, though, and it was that man Hassell-Collins who put Exiles back in command. Some super interplay in midfield – most notably a lovely off-load from replacement prop Sekope Kepu – ended with the ball being spread wide and Hassell-Collins running the ball in from 30 metres out for his seventh try in just eight Premiership appearances this season. Myler added further gloss to his side’s bonus-point score by knocking over the conversion, and the hosts were 24-15 up.

Irish thought they had wrapped up the victory 13 minutes from time when matt Rogerson went over from close range, only for the score to be wiped off by the TMO for a double movement.

And Gloucester then set up a rip-roaring finish by grabbing their third try with eight minutes remaining, teenage wing Louis Ress-Zammit finishing on the right-hand side after the ball was worked through the hands. Twelvetrees struck his conversion attempt well, but it drifted just wide to leave Exiles four points in front.

And while the visitors controlled the ball in the latter stages, they never looked like fashioning a decisive try, Exiles holding on to secure a third consecutive victory which saw them leapfrog their opponents and up to the lofty heights of fifth in the table.

London Irish will seek a fourth straight success when they host Wasps next Sunday (3pm).