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Fixture Type: LV= Cup
Match Date: Sun 30 Jan 2011
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Assistant Referee: Roy Maybank
Referee: James Jones
Assistant Referee: Rhys Davies
<1r>Once the Exiles found their rhythm they were far too hot for the Northampton Saints to handle.
Ryan Lamb scored the first points of the game after eight minutes as Northampton were penalised at the breakdown. From this point on the Exiles were always in control of the contest.
The Saints did find themselves with quite a bit of possession early on but again, like teams before them this season, struggled to make a dent on the Irish defence. Dan Bowden and Nick Kennedy both put in some notable tackles forcing their opponent back on more than one occasion.
After 20 minutes Irish gave away a penalty for playing the ball on the floor when the ruck had been formed and Joe Ford stepped up to make it 3-3.
It was around the 25 minute mark when London Irish really started to up the tempo of the game. Brian Blaney, who had his best game in an Exiles shirt since moving to the club, caught an over thrown line out to put Irish on the front foot. Northampton were penalised for being offside and Ryan Lamb had the simplest of kicks in front of the posts to put the Exiles 6-3 ahead.
Three minutes later the Exiles were celebrating their first try of the game. They had a lineout just outside the Northampton 22. Ryan Lamb released Sailosi Tagicakibau from a first phase move and the big Samoan went thundering into the 22. From the third phase, Jamie Gibson went very close to scoring but was tackled a metre out. The resulting pick and go saw Brian Blaney, with the help of his front row partners Ion and Murphy, power his way across the line to score the opening try of the match giving the Exiles an 11-3 lead.
Joe Ford added a penalty just before half time but it was not to be the final action of the half. Irish had time for one more lineout which they won off the top and popped off to Steffon Armitage who went flying down the left channel dragging two tacklers with him. Two phases later Armitage found himself with the ball again and fired a huge miss pass to Brian Blaney who ran in from two metres out to score his second try of the match. Ryan Lamb added the conversion from out wide to give the Exiles a 18-6 half time lead.
Irish started the second half with a lot of enthusiasm. Ryan Lamb caught the ball from a Joe Ford kick, 30 seconds back into the game, and threw a long range pass to Topsy Ojo who took the ball in his stride and went storming into the Northampton 22 to give Irish a great platform to attack off. Unfortunately on this occasion nothing came of it.
Topsy Ojo was again quickly in the thick of the action claiming a high ball just outside his own 22 before setting off on a wavy run, beating five Saints defenders in the process. Irish had definitely settled into the second half the better of the two sides and were showing their attacking desire whenever they had the ball.
Brian Blaney was sin binned by referee James Jones after 50 minutes for an infringement at the breakdown and shortly after Northampton scored a try from a pick and go very much against the run of play. Brett Sharman came up with the ball and Joe ford added the conversion to make the score 18-13 to London Irish.
Shortly after Northampton had closed the gap the Exiles were celebrating their third try. Replacement back rower George Stowers received a pass from Darren Allinson and powered his way over the line from 5 metres out to increase Irish’s lead again. Ryan Lamb added the conversion.
Irish were now hunting the bonus point try and came straight back at the Saints. Northampton were penalised for not releasing the ball in a ruck. Ryan Lamb put the ball in the corner and from the resulting lineout Steffon Armitage came powering out of the maul to score the Irish bonus point try, effectively ending the contest.
There was still time for one more Irish try in the last few minutes and they certainly saved the best till last. Man of the match Ryan Lamb made a half break and delivered a Sonny Bill Williams-esque pass out the back door to George Stowers who drew the full back before passing to Dan Bowden who scored under the post. Lamb, who made the initial break, added the simple conversion to make the score 37-13, rounding off a splendid performance.
Northampton did score a consolation try right at the end through Scott Armstrong but it was too little too late and Irish ran out comfortable winners at 37-20.
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Blaney (29, 40); Armitage (56); Stowers (67); Bowden (72) Conversions: Lamb 3; Penalties: Lamb 2. Northampton: Tries Sharman (52); Armstrong (80); Conversions Ford, Cornwell; Penalties: Ford 2
Scoring Sequence: (London Irish first) 3-0, 3-3, 8-3, 11-3,11-6,18-6, 18-13, 25-13, 30-13, 37-13,37-20
London Irish: 15. Topsy Ojo; 14: Adam Thompstone; 13. Seilala Mapusua (Captain) (rep: Elvis Seveali’i, 68); 12. Dan Bowden; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 10. Ryan Lamb; 9. Darren Allinson (rep:Alfredo Lalanne,66); 1. Dan Murphy (rep: Max Lahiff,60); 2. Brian Blaney (Sin Binned 50-60) (rep: Rob Herring, 70); 3. Paulica Ion (rep: Will Johnson, 66); 4. Nick Kennedy (rep: Kieran Low, 68); 5. Kieran Roche; 6. Jamie Gibson (rep: Richard Thorpe, 69); 7. Steffon Armitage (rep: Rob Herring, 53-60); 8. Chris Hala’ufia (Rep: George Stowers, 52)
Northampton: 15. Greig Tonks; 14.Scott Armstrong 13. Jamie Elliot; 12. Shane Geraghty; 11. Bruce Reihana; 10. Joe Ford (rep: Matt Cornwell, 66); 9. Stuart Commins (rep: James Ingle,68); 1. Alex Waller(rep: Regardt Dreyer, 37); 2. Brett Sharman (rep: Andy Long, 64) 3. Tom Mercey (rep: Ben Prescott,66); 4. Adam Eustace (rep: Tom Hicks, 69); 5. Mark Sorenson; 6. Calum Clark; 7. Ben Nutley; 8. Mark Easter
Referee: James Jones