London Irish and London Wasps faced each other in the clubs’ latest Premier Rugby ‘A’ League match.
Both clubs fielded teams based on Academy players with a sprinkling of guest players and experienced professionals. To the credit of both they served up 80 minutes of rugby that never lacked commitment or adventure and often included fine skill that belied the greasy ball and slippery surface.
The home team had the better of the opening exchanges and were rewarded when dynamic Richard Thorpe capitalised on a powerful line break by Jamie Gibson to score a try in the seventh minute. Jamie Lennard added the conversion and kicked his first penalty four minutes later to give Irish a 10-0 lead.
Wasps patiently played themselves into the match and their lively full back Jack Wallace raced through for a try in the 19th minute. Rob Kirby added the extras and levelled the score with a penalty in the 29th minute.
Lennard edged Irish ahead with his second penalty in the 32nd minute when the visitors were penalised for a high tackle. The lead was short lived as Kirby kicked two penalties in the 35th and 40th minutes to give his team a three point lead at the interval.
Irish made five changes at half-time and they made an impact from the re-start. Had it not been for a malfunctioning lineout and handling errors the scoreboard would have been moving in their favour.
As things unfolded it fell to Lennard to move Irish back into the lead with two penalties in the 47th and 51st minutes. The former as a result of a yellow card offence by Wasps scrum half Matt Heeks who was sinned binned by Referee Davey for a high tackle on his opposite number Andy Garner.
Wallace touched down for his second try for the visitors in the 53rd minute with Kirby converting. That was followed by a third try for the visitors by Sam Jones in the 60th minute. Kirby once again adding the extras to give his team a 30 -19 lead going into the final quarter.
The Exiles responded with a courageous display of attacking rugby and there was much to admire in the pace with which Sam Edgerley, Jonathan Joseph, Guy Armitage and Marcus Watson tried to capitalise on the hard work of their pack in which Andy Perry’s physical presence was invaluable.
Lennard kicked two further penalties for Irish in the 63rd and 69th minutes to set up an exciting final ten minutes. Both defences held out and the match finished 25-30 in favour of the visitors.
Scorers: London Irish A: Try: Thorpe (7); Conversion: Lennard. Penalty goads: Lennard 6 (11, 32, 47, 51, 63, 69). London Wasp A: Tries: Wallace 2 (19, 53); Conversions: Kirby 3. Penalty goals: Kirby 3 (29, 35, 40).
Scoring sequence: 7-0, 10-0, 10-7, 10-10, 13-10, 13-13, 13-16 (half-time) 16-16, 19-16, 19-23, 19-30, 22-30, 25-30.
London Irish: 15. J Lennard; 14. S Edgerley; 13. J Joseph; 12. C Gower (rep: W Spencer, h-t); 11. M Watson; 10. C Malone (captain)(rep: G Armitage, h-t); 9. B Stevenson (rep: A Garner, h-t); 1. M Lahiff (rep: D Fraser, h-t); 2. R Herring; 3. J Horn-Smith; 4. K Low; 5. A Perry (rep: K Corrigan, 71); 6. R Smith; 7. J Gibson (rep: J Downey, h-t); 8. R Thorpe.
London Wasps: 15. J Wallace (rep:; 14. C Elder; 13. J Bordiss (rep: J Hayes, 54); 12. W East; 11. B Farr; 10. R Kirby; 9. M Heeks (rep: S Arnott, 27); 1. T French (rep: O Day, h-t); 2. T Lindsay (rep: A Duncan, 53); 3. B Baker (rep: L Smith, 75); 4. P Elder (rep: H Casson, 35); 5. D Leo; 6. W Matthews (captain)(rep: S Jones, h-t); 7. M Odejobi; 8. H Ellis (rep: S Jones, 36-40)(rep: A Ellis, 57).
Referee: Mr S Davey (RFU)