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Irish and Worcester braved the elements and fought it out in Reading with the hosts scoring three tries to nil to record a comfortable victory.
It wasn’t the expansive attacking performance that Exiles supporters are usually accustomed to on a St Patrick’s Party encounter. It was instead, a dogged, determined display from Glenn Delaney’s pack that saw Irish prevail.
Irish started with a bang and crossed for two tries in the opening quarter. Firstly Matt Garvey was on hand to dot down for a try after the Irish pack had driven Worcester 20 metres with their powerful driving maul which the visitors found too difficult to stop.
Halani Aulika was the next Irish forward to dive over for a score. Again, the Irish pack was dominant at the lineout and created an unstoppable driving maul that Worcester failed to deal with. The end result was another five points to the Exiles and another try to add to the Tongan tight head’s tally.
Tom Homer and Andy Goode traded two penalty goals each in the second quarter of the first half to make it Irish 16 Worcester 6 at half time.
Irish made a physical start to the second half and Chris Hala’ufia was at the heart of it. Another Irish driving maul made its way over the Worcester line, however the visitors managed to hold the Exiles up over the line.
From the resulting five metre scrum the Irish front five powered into the Worcester pack and allowed Chris Hala’ufia to pounce off the back of the scrum and muscle his way over the line. Homer added the conversion to give Irish a 23-6 lead.
Tom Homer kicked his third penalty on 49 minutes to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The final quarter was dominated by the visitors as they controlled field possession and territory. They kept knocking on the door of the Irish line but the hosts held firm with resolute defence.
Irish ran out 26 – 6 winners and gained four valuable points. The Exiles host Sale Sharks in the next round of Aviva Premiership rugby at Madejski Stadium next Sunday.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 5-0, 10-0, 10-3, 13-3, 16-3, 16-6, 23-6, 26-6
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Garvey (9); Aulika (20) Hala’ufia (44); Penalties: Homer (27, 34, 49); Conversions: Homer; Worcester Warriors: Penalties: Goode (24, 38)
15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Guy Armitage (rep: Jonathan Joseph, 68); 12. Shane Geraghty (rep: Sailosi Tagicakibau, 68); 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Pat Phibbs (rep: Jack Moates, 61); 1. Max Lahiff (rep: Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 77); 2. David Paice (rep: Scott Lawson, 61); 3. Halani Aulika (rep: Leo Halavatau, 55); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Matt Garvey; 7. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Jamie Gibson, 70); 8. Chris Hala’ufia (rep: Jon Fisher, 61)
Replacements: 16. Scott Lawson; 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jamie Gibson; 20. Jon Fisher; 21. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 22. Jonathan Joseph; 23. Jack Moates
15. Chris Pennell; 14. Josh Drauniniu; 13. Alex Grove; 12. Jon Clarke (rep: Josh Matavesi, 58); 11. David Lemi; 10. Andy Goode (rep: Danny Gray, 68); 9. Paul Hodgson (rep: Jonny Arr, 54); 1. Matt Mullan (rep: Ceri Jones, 68); 2. Ed Shervington (rep: Aleki Lutui, 68); 3. John Andress (rep: Euan Murray, 58); 4. James Percival (Captain); 5. Dean Schofield (rep: Chris Jones, 54); 6. Neil Best; 7. Matt Kvesic; 8. Blair Cowan (rep: Semisi Taulava, 54)
Replacements: 16. Aleki Lutui; 17. Ceri Jones; 18. Euan Murray; 19. Chris Jones; 20. Semisi Taulava; 21. Jonny Arr; 22. Danny Gray; 23. Josh Matavesi
Referee: Wayne Barnes