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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 22 Mar 2014
Kick Off: 17:30
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Greg Garner
TV Match Official: David Sainsbury
Assistant Referee: Nigel Carrick
Assistant Referee: Peter Huckle
The St Patrick’s Party entertainment off the field lived up to the occasion and so did the London Irish performance on the field, for 60 minutes at least.
The turning point came on 57 minutes when Nick Abendanon ran through a gap that seemed to be created by Bath forwards obstructing the Irish defenders. Anthony Watson was on the end of the full back’s pass to score in the corner and the try stood. Irish never recovered from the decision and the visitors were ruthless in taking advantage of the opportunity.
Topsy Ojo and Chris Hala’ufia scored the Irish tries and Bath won with a bonus point thanks to tries from Eastmond, Watson, Wilson and Matt Garvey.
Irish made an eager start in front of the partisan crowd. They created plenty of chances early on but were unable to breakdown the visitor’s resolute defence.
A great training ground move off the top of the lineout saw Topsy Ojo go through the narrow gap that was made from the pass of Shane Geraghty but referee, Greg Garner, judged the pass to have been thrown forward and brought play back.
Irish lost Matt Parr to the sin bin for 10 minutes on the 14 minute mark for tackling Kyle Eastmond off the ball. Whilst Irish were down to 14 men George Ford kicked Bath ahead with a straightforward penalty attempt in front of the posts.
The Exiles responded with three points of their own from the boot of full back James O’Connor. Bath were penalised at the scrum and the Australian made no mistake to level the scores.
A George Ford cross field kick 10 minutes before the break put Irish under pressure and when an Irish back cleared the ruck out from the side the boys from the west country were awarded another penalty. Ford booted his second to make it 3-6 to Bath.
The Irish reply was emphatic and came from a powerful, surging run from Shane Geraghty. The fly half was hauled down inches from the line and when the ball was eventually recycled the Exiles leading try scorer, Topsy Ojo, was on hand to dive over. O’Connor added the extras to put his side 10-6 ahead.
As one team scored the other followed suit. That trend continued when Kyle Eastmond received a pass from Nick Abendanon and scampered in for a try to put Bath back in front by one point. Ford providing the inside pass to Abendanon was brilliantly done.
James O’Connor kicked his second penalty to put Irish ahead again straight from the re-start before George Ford made it 13-14 on the stroke of half time with a well struck penalty goal.
The Exiles started the second half with some excellent field position and plenty of possession. They were very close to the Bath line before a misdirected pass allowed Bath to avert danger.
They turned defensive pressure into attack and were rewarded with two George Ford penalties to put Bath 20-13 ahead with 30 minutes remaining.
A Bath youngster, who learnt his trade in the Irish Academy, came back to haunt his former Club when he was on the end of a Nick Abendanon run to finish in the corner. There looked to be obstruction as Abendanon went through. Greg Garner consulted the TMO but made his own mind up and gave him the benefit of the doubt and the try stood.
George Ford kicked his sixth penalty goal before David Wilson received a pass from the England fly half to dive in under the posts and confirm his side’s victory.
Credit to London Irish as they rallied to the end. They were awarded when Chris Hala’ufia was carried over the line. However the last word belonged to Bath and it was another Irish old boy, Matt Garvey, who scored their bonus point try just before full time to make the final score London Irish 23 Bath 44.
Brian Smith’s side travel to the Twickenham Stoop next Saturday as they take on Harlequins.
Scorer sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 3-3, 3-6, 10-6, 10-11, 13-11, 13-14, 13-17, 13-20, 16-20, 16-27, 16-30, 16-37, 23-37, 23-44
Scorers: Bath Rugby: Penalties: Ford (20, 29, 40, 47, 51, 61); Tries: Eastmond (35), Watson (57), Wilson (69), Garvey (79); Conversions: Ford (3); London Irish: Penalties: O’Connor (23, 38), Geraghty (55); Tries: Ojo (32), Hala’ufia (77); Conversions: O’Connor, Humphreys
15. James O’Connor; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Eamonn Sheridan; 11. Marland Yarde (rep: Andrew Fenby, 75); 10. Shane Geraghty (rep: Ian Humphreys, 66); 9. Darren Allinson (rep: Ed Hoadley, 77); 1. Matt Parr (rep: John Yapp, 61); 2. David Paice (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 66); 3. Jamie Hagan (rep: Leo Halavatau, 71); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Nic Rouse (rep: Chris Hala’ufia, 66); 6. Kieran Low (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 51); 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: John Yapp, 18-23)
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. John Yapp; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Chris Hala’ufia; 21. Andrew Fenby; 22. Ian Humphreys; 23. Ed Hoadley
15. Nick Abendanon (rep: Horacio Agulla, 75); 14. Anthony Watson; 13. Ollie Devoto (rep: Gavin Henson, 67); 12. Kyle Eastmond; 11. Semesa Rokoduguni; 10. George Ford; 9. Peter Stringer (rep: Micky Young, 67); 1. Paul James (rep: Nathan Catt, 66); 2. Ross Batty (rep: Tom Dunn, 75); 3. David Wilson (rep: Juan Pablo Orlandi, 75); 4. Stuart Hooper (Captain (rep: Dominic Day, 67)); 5. Dave Attwood; 6. Matt Garvey; 7. Francois Louw (rep: Guy Mercer, 53); 8. Leroy Houston
Replacements: 16. Tom Dunn; 17. Nathan Catt; 18. Juan Pablo Orlandi; 19. Dominic Day; 20. Guy Mercer; 21. Micky Young; 22. Gavin Henson; 23. Horacio Agulla
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 22, 361