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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sun 20 Apr 2014
Kick Off: 14:00
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: JP Doyle
TV Match Official: Geoff Warren
Assistant Referee: Andrew Pearce
Assistant Referee: Nigel Carrick
There Exiles struggled in the opening 40 minutes and conceded three first half tries to go in at half time 24-0 down, however that was not a true reflection of the state of play. London Irish had numerous opportunities to cross the hosts line but were unable to take any of them.
Gerard Ellis went very close early on but was turned over by determined Northampton defence. Shortly after stemming the tide, Saints were on the board through the boot of Stephen Myler.
Shane Geraghty had an outstanding first half and was at the heart of everything good his side were doing. The captain for the day was certainly leading by example and made two expert breaks that his side failed to convert.
Jamie Elliot crossed for two first half scores, the first of which was scored after 13 minutes after a charged down kick fell fortuitously for the winger in acres of space, he showed just enough toe to beat Alex Lewington to the try line. Myler converted to put his side 10-0 ahead.
In between two further Saints tries, Andrew Fenby looked dangerous and Irish had a great try scoring chance foiled down the righthand side when referee JP Doyle judged the ball to have been thrown forward.
Saints scrum half Kahn Fotuali'i scored his sides second try and it was opportunistic to say the least. Tomås O'Leary had his attempted box kick partially charged down and it bounced opportunistically into the hands of the scrum half who ran in from 20 metres out. Myler again converted to make it 17-0.
Three minutes before the break Elliot finished off a great team move to make it 24-0 to the home side at the break.
Irish started the second half slowly and paid the price when two minutes later the Saints had their bonus point try. They had sustained pressure on the Saints line and when the overlap was created Salesi Ma'afu was able to dive over for his first try for the Club. That made it 29-0 and left Irish a mountain to climb.
Brian Smith's side showed plenty of character in the remaining 35 minutes to force there way back into the match. It was built on some great intensity in defence that led to opportunities in attack.
Andrew Fenby was the first to strike after Irish went 90 metres after turning the ball over in their own 22. The ball was spun wide to Fergus Mulchrone who grubber kicked the ball through for Fenby to chase. The ball bounced up nicely for the Irish winger and he ran in under the posts to give Geraghty a straightforward conversion.
Shane Geraghty scored his sides second try when the ball was dislodged in defence the fly half sprinted in from 70 metres for a well deserved score to give his side hope.
29-14 quickly became 29-21 when replacement flanker Jebb Sinclair bundled his way over for the Exiles third try. The forward pack showed patience out from the hosts line and were rewarded with the Sinclair score that was converted by Geraghty.
With only eight points between the teams the turning point came when a pass from Tom Homer to Marland Yarde was judged to have gone forward. If it hadn't the outcome might have been so different as Yarde sprinted clear for a try.
Instead it was Saints that had the final say with a fifth try to front row forward Alex Waller. Myler's conversion made the final score Northampton 36 London Irish 21.
Irish travel to Gloucester for their next outing in two weeks time.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 0-10, 0-17, 24-0, 29-0, 29-7, 29-14, 29-21, 36-21
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Fenby (61), Geraghty (63), Sinclair (67); conversions: Geraghty (3); Northampton Saints: Penalties: Myler (8); Tries: Elliot (13, 37), Fotuali'i (31), Ma'afu (42), Waller (80); Conversions: Myler (4)
15. Alex Lewington (rep: Tom homer, 40); 14. Marland Yarde; 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Eamonn Sheridan; 11. Andrew Fenby ; 10. Shane Geraghty (Captain) (rep: Myles Dorrian, 75); 9. Tomás O’Leary (rep: Darren Allinson, 40); 1. Matt Parr (rep: Johnny Harris, 72); 2. Mike Mayhew (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 40); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: Jamie Hagan, 40); 4. Kieran Low (rep: Bryn Evans, 33); 5. Nic Rouse; 6. Blair Cowan (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 51); 7. Gerard Ellis; 8. Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. Johnny Harris; 18. Jamie Hagan; 19. Bryn Evans; 20. Jebb Sinclair 21. Tom Homer; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Darren Allinson
15. Ben Foden; (rep: James Wilson, 63) 14. Jamie Elliot; 13. George Pisi; 12. Luther Burrell; 11. George North; 10. Stephen Myler; 9. Kahn Fotuali'i; 1. Alex Waller (rep: Ethan Waller, 57); 2. Ross McMillan (rep: Matt Williams, 63); 3. Salesi Ma'afu (rep: Gareth Denman, 57); 4. Samu Manoa (rep: Calum Clark, 40); 5. Courtney Lawes; 6. Phil Dowson; 7. Tom Wood (Captain); 8. Sam Dickinson (rep: GJ Van Velze, 58)
Replacements: 16. Matt Williams; 17. Ethan Waller; 18. Gareth Denman; 19. Calum Clark; 20. GJ Van Velze; 21. Alex Day; 22. Will Hooley; 23. James Wilson
Referee: JP Doyle