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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 04 Sep 2010
Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: Andrew Small
TV Match Official: Geoff Warren
Assistant Referee: Stuart Terheege
Assistant Referee: Andrew Pearce
Head coach Toby Booth and his backroom staff will have been delighted with their side’s fine win which was as much down to their destructive attacking play as their defensive guile and brawn.
Trailing 10-6 at the break, the Exiles produced a near faultless second half comeback scoring all four of their tries in the process.
The 2010 Double Header burst into life from the very first whistle as both sides looked to attack with ball in hand at every opportunity.
After four minutes a kick deep into Saracens territory was fumbled by fullback Chris Wyles to give the Exiles an attacking platform just yards from the try line.
From the resulting tap kick the hosts made their assault on their opponents’ line and five minutes later they were still camped there, having being denied by some dogged Saracens defence.
The visitors’ finally managed to clear their lines through the boot of Alex Goode but his kick could only find the lurking Sailosi Tagicakibau who collected the ball and head down, launched another counter attack.
Irish bossed the opening quarter with almost exclusive possession in Saracens’ half, yet they were unable to turn possession into points and it took a sensational tackle from Exiles scrum-half Paul Hodgson to deny Brad Barritt from a clear run at the line.
After another break just minutes later, the home side found themselves a man down, as Delon Armitage was adjudged to have made a late tackle on Wyles and was duly sent to the sinbin by referee Andrew Small.
Three minutes on and Saracens maximised their man advantage with a slick move that ended with skipper Ernst Joubert touching down in the corner. Goode missed the conversion, but Saracens led 5-0.
A five point advantage was soon reduced to two as Ryan Lamb sweetly slotted his second penalty of the afternoon between the posts.
Armitage then returned much to the delight of the vocal Exiles support, but his reintroduction couldn’t prevent Shalk Brits from adding his side’s second try after Joubert had once more broken the Exiles line.
Goode again missed his kick, but just seconds later Lamb showed his quality with another well struck penalty to leave Saracens with a 10-6 lead at half-time.
<2>Whatever was said in the home dressing room must have been stirring stuff as the Exiles shot out of the blocks after the break, unleashing their attacking game to devastating effect.
One move brought Twickenham to its feet as the creative skills of Lamb and debutant Daniel Bowden sent the ball fizzing its way through the hands of the Irish backline.
With just yards to go, the hosts were denied by a deliberate knock on from Goode which cut short the move, but also earned him 10 minutes in the bin.
To make matters worse for the young England prospect, Lamb made no mistake with the penalty kick and then five minutes later Irish finally had the lead as quick hands and ceaseless pressure saw the ball find Delon Armitage’s who scored in the corner.
<3r>Lamb’s narrow conversion miss was soon forgotten less than 100 seconds later when his visionary crossfield kick found Tagicakibau in acres of space on the left.
The Samoan then did what he does best and sprinted over the line for an excellent try which Lamb duly turned into seven points.
Goode rather glumly returned to the action after his stint in the bin having had to watch on as Irish scored 15 unanswered points in his absence.
The topsy turvy contest then began to swing back to Saracens as two penalty kicks from substitute Derek Hougaard and a yellow card for Hodgson brought them firmly back into the contest and trailing by just five points.
<1>The match was on a knife edge, but with the odds stacked against them and their opponents with their tails up, the Exiles stood strong, launching into tackle after tackle to keep their lead.
Then came more drama as Topsy Ojo found himself charging towards the Saracens’ line in pursuit of the ball that skidded and squirmed trickily on the Twickenham turf.
The Irish winger needed his best boyhood footballing skills to first control, and then kick the ball towards the line with the Saracens’ defence in hot pursuit.
Ojo arrived at the line only to be illegally pushed off the ball by the pursuing Barrett. The crowd roared in indignation and after a lengthy consultation by the video referee, a penalty try was awarded and the Exiles lead by 12 points.
More was to come and, with the Saracens ranks exhausted by another brutal Irish onslaught, another arcing Lamb pass was collected by Ojo who scored a well deserved try with the last play of the match.
London Irish: Tries: D Armitage (49), Tagicakibau (51), Penalty Try (73), Ojo (80); Conversion: Lamb (52). Penalty goals: Lamb (28, 35, 44).
Saracens: Tries: Joubert (25), Brits (34). Penalty goals: Hougaard (55, 64).
Scoring sequence (LI first): 0-5, 3-5, 3-10, 6-10. (HT). 9-10, 14-10, 21-10, 21-13, 21-16, 28-16, 33-16.
London Irish: 15. Delon Armitage; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Elvis Seveali’i (Malone 72); 12. Daniel Bowden (Mapusua 62); 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau (Joseph 60); 10. Ryan Lamb; 9. Paul Hodgson; 1. Clarke Dermody (captain); 2. David Paice (Buckland 55); 3. Faan Rautenbach (Corbisiero 55); 4. Kieran Roche (Kennedy 62); 5. Bob Casey (Garvey 70); 6. Declan Danaher; 7. Steffon Armitage; 8. George Stowers.
Unused Replacements: Max Lahiff