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The Exiles produced a clinical performance to deny the visitors the chance of progressing through to the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup, combining clinical finishing and a ferocious defence to come out on top.
The opening minutes of the game saw the Ospreys camped on the Exiles line, with scrum half Mike Phillips coming very close to scoring. The Exiles tackled everything that ran at them and turned over the ball allowing scrum half Darren Allinson to clear the ball up to half way. This set the tone defensively for the remainder of the game for the home side.
After 10 minutes London Irish mounted their first challenge on the Ospreys line and a neat chip into the Welsh team's 22 from Allinson was almost touched down by Dan Bowden, unfortunately Nikki Walker got there just before him to force a 22 metre drop out.
The first points of the game came after 16 minutes of play. The Ospreys were penalised for infringing around the ruck and gave Bowden his first kick at goal. He made no mistake to make it 3-0. It was thoroughly deserved after 10 minutes of sustained pressure and possession in Ospreys territory.
Two minutes later the Ospreys were level when Dan Biggar kicked a penalty from in front of the Irish posts.
A minute later the Exiles scored the first try of the game with Delon Armitage playing a huge role in it. Armitage collected a Dan Biggar kick and broke through two tackles in the Ospreys midfield putting the Exiles on the front foot. From the third phase Delon Armitage fired a miss pass to Sailosi Tagicakibau who scored in the corner. It was a well worked try that was superbly finished off by Tagicakibau to give London Irish an 8-3 lead.
The first 25 minutes saw lots of attacking rugby from both sides, however neither side seemed to be able to find an advantage at scrum time which continued for the full 80 minutes.
Bowden and Biggar both exchanged penalties going into half time, before the Ospreys gave away another penalty for dragging the scrum half into the ruck to give Bowden the chance to make it 14-6 at half time.
London Irish came racing out of the traps at the start of the second half scoring 60 seconds after the game re-started. The Exiles won a line out and gave quick ball to Dan Bowden who broke through his opposite number before offloading out of the tackle to Elvis Seveali’i. The Samoan outside centre then drew the Ospreys full back in and passed to the flying Topsy Ojo who ran in to score under the posts. It was a clinical finish from Ojo and with Bowden’s conversion the home side now had a 21-6 lead.
The Ospreys kept coming back at the Irish and time and time again they kept on being forced back by powerful, resilient home defence.
Biggar and then James Hook did add a penalty each to make it 21-12 to the home side going into the last 10 minutes which did set up a tense finish.
The nerves were not made any easier for Toby Booth after 71 minutes as James Buckland was sin binned for slowing the Ospreys ball down giving the Welsh team a one man advantage for the rest of the game.
The Ospreys were unable to take advantage of the extra man as they yet again ran into a green wall of defence. The Exiles won a penalty and played the remaining five minutes deep inside Ospreys territory.
There was time for replacement fly half, Ryan Lamb, to kick a penalty goal from wide out to ensure London Irish ran out winners by 24 points to 12.
It was an impressive performance from London Irish against a team full of international stars and will give the men in green confidence going to Munster next weekend.
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Tagicakibau (18), Ojo (41); Penalties: Bowden 3 (15,27,37); Lamb (77); Conversions: Bowden (42). Ospreys: Penalties Biggar 3 (17,31,44), Hook (66)
Scoring Sequence: (London Irish first) 3-0, 3-3, 8-3, 11-3, 11-6, 14-6, 21-6, 21-9, 21-12, 24-12
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
London Irish: 15. Delon Armitage; 14: Topsy Ojo; 13. Elvis Seveali’I; 12. Seilala Mapasua (Captain); 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau ( rep: Adam Thompstone, 79); 10. Dan Bowden (rep: Ryan Lamb, 74); 9. Darren Allinson; 1. Alex Corbisiero (rep: Dan Murphy, 70); 2. James Buckland (sin binned, 71 -80); 3. Faan Rautenbach (rep: Paulica Ion, 52); 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. George Sowers (rep: Jamie Gibson, 70); 7. Steffon Armitage (rep: Brian Blaney, 71); 8. Chris Hala’ufia
Ospreys: 15. Barry Davies (rep: Lee Byrne, 52); 14. Nikki Walker; 13. Tommy Bowe; 12. James Hook; 11. Richard Fussell; 10. Dan Biggar (rep: Sonny Parker, 59); 9. Mike Phillips (rep: Jamie Nutbrown, 76); 1. Paul James (rep: Duncan Jones, 59); 2. Richard Hibbard (rep: Huw Bennett, 59); 3. Adam Jones (rep: Craig Mitchell, 40); 4. Ryan Jones; 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Captain); 6. Jerry Collins; 7. Marty Holah (rep: Justin Tipuric, 49); 8. Jonathan Thomas