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The Exiles produced a solid performance having the better of the visitors in most facets of the game.
Irish made a great start to the match winning a penalty inside the first minute after Newcastle were penalised for not releasing the tackled man at the ruck. Ryan Lamb stepped up to give Irish an early lead.
London Irish were then immediately put on the back foot. Newcastle won a lineout just outside the Exiles 22 metre line controlling the ball for 20 phases before solid Irish defence forced a mistake. It was not long before the visitors were over the try line. A powerful Newcastle scrum produced a great platform for Falcons fly half Jimmy Gopperth to run off and score under the posts from five metres out. Gopperth added the conversion to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead after 10 minutes.
Irish had the chance to cut the deficit to just a point after 18 minutes, Ryan Lamb unfortunately hit the uprights with his penalty kick keeping the Falcons four point lead intact.
Paul Hodgson, returning from international duty with the Saxons, left the field 20 minutes into the game after showing immense bravery in charging down of a Jimmy Gopperth kick which left him needing stitches to his head. Darren Allinson came on to replace Hodgson for the remainder of the match.
Ryan Lamb scored London Irish’s first try of the game after 25 minutes, dummying his opposite number before fending off the fullback to score under the posts. Ryan added the conversion to put Irish back in front 10 points to 7.
Once Irish found their rhythm they started to play some great attacking rugby, always looking to offload the ball out of the tackle, creating space and gaps in the Newcastle defence.
Just before the half-time interval Ryan Lamb put in a neat chip kick that was collected by Elvis Seveali’i, his offload pass was just out of the reach of Adam Thompstone otherwise the Exiles would have been in for their second try of the game.
The Irish scrum and lineout was solid throughout with the ever reliable Nick Kennedy making sure of his own lineout ball on every occasion and working very well with James Buckland.
The second half started off as a kicking dual with both sides looking to play for territory. This was soon broken when man of the match, Topsy Ojo, caught a high ball and set off on a 30 metre run before getting tackled 20 metres out from the Falcons line. From the next lineout the Irish forwards kept the ball tight until Clarke Dermody took a short pass off Allinson down the blindside to power his way over the try line. The New Zealander was playing his first game back after spending the last six weeks out with an injury.
Seilala Mapusua scored the Exiles third try after 54 minutes with the ball passed quickly through the hands creating an overlap that left the Samoan captain with an easy run in to give his side a 20-7 lead.
Ojo and Thompstone were ripping Newcastle to shreds with ball in hand breaking the gain line on almost every occasion they received the ball.
Irish spent most of the second half on the front foot dominating both territory and possession and had two great tries to show for it.
Steffon Armitage was sent to the sin bin after 68 minutes for giving away a penalty in his own 22 (red zone), however Newcastle were unable to force their way over the Exiles try line as the men in green showed determined defence.
London Irish made sure of the win after 75 minutes when replacement fly half Chris Malone slotted a penalty from half way to put the game beyond Newcastle.
Newcastle’s South African replacement Gcobani Bobo did score a consolation try after the siren but it was too little too late and Irish ran out 23 -14 winners.
Score Sequence: (London Irish first) 3-0, 3-7, 10-7, 15-7, 20-7, 23-7, 23-14
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Lamb (25), Dermody (50), Mapusua (54); Conversions: Lamb; Penalties: Lamb, Malone Newcastle: Tries Gopperth (10), Bobo (80); Conversions: Gopperth 2
London Irish Team
15. Topsy Ojo; 14. Adam Thompstone; 13. Elvis Seveali’I (rep: Dan Bowden, 75); 12. Seilala Mapusua (Captain); 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau (rep: Rob Herring, 78); 10. Ryan Lamb (rep: Chris Malone, 60); 9. Paul Hodgson (rep: Darren Allinson, 20); 1.Clarke Dermody (rep: Dan Murphy, 50); 2. James Buckland; 3. Paulica Ion (rep: Will Johnson,65); 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Kieran Low (rep: Gary Johnson, 75); 6. Kieran Roche (rep: Steffon Armitage, 60 Sin binned 68-78); 7. Jamie Gibson; 8. George Stowers
15. Jeremy Manning; 14. Luke Fielden; 13. Luke Eves; 12. Tane Tu'ipulotu; 11. Alex Tait; 10. Jimmy Gopperth; 9. Micky Young (rep: Hall Charlton, 67); 1. Jonny Golding (rep: Grant Shiells, 54); 2. Matt Thompson (rep: Rob Vickers, 50); 3. James Hall (rep: Kieran Brookes, 50); 4. James Hudson; 5. Andrew Van der Heijden (rep: Mark Wilson, 60); 6. Tim Swinson (rep: Felipo Levi, 67); 7. Will Welch; 8. Ally Hogg
Referee: Martin Fox