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Shane Geraghty and Marland Yarde crossed for tries in the first and second half respectively to see Irish home, however it was the barnstorming performance of Chris Hala’ufia that was the difference between the two sides.
The number 8 had a superb first half and was then sin binned 10 seconds within the start of the second half. He redeemed himself by performing outstandingly well in the final 30 minutes to confirm himself as the man of the match.
Irish made a great start to the local derby with Shane Geraghty smashing Sam Jones straight from the kick-off to win his side a penalty. Unfortunately Tom Homer’s early effort hit the post, but he made amends three minutes later to put Irish in front.
Irish were playing a terrific brand of rugby opting to keep it tight initially and release the backs at the right time. The Exiles twice crossed the Wasps line in the opening 10 minutes. Firstly Halani Aulika was held up over the line and then Marland Yarde was brilliantly tackled by Christian Wade and bundled into touch when he had crossed the line.
Stephen Jones kicked the first points of the day for the visitors after the Irish player failed to release the tackled player.
Irish hit back three minutes later with some Ian Humphreys quick thinking. Irish were awarded a penalty 15 metres out from the Wasps line and instead of opting for the shot at goal the Ulsterman took a quick tap and sent a wide pass to Geraghty who finished in the corner.
Irish ill-discipline was keeping the visitors in the game with Jones kicking his second penalty just before the half hour mark and then another three minutes later to make it a two point ball game.
Christian Wade scored a try in the corner, which he finished in fine fashion, to give his side the lead for the first time in the match on 36 minutes, and with Jones converting Wasps had a five point margin.
Tom Homer kicked a penalty just on half time to cut the deficit to two points at the interval.
Irish lost Chris Hala’ufia to the sin bin for 10 minutes at the start of the second half and during that spell both sides kicked a penalty each. The Tongan returned to the field to make an immediate impact. He crashed the ball up the midfield and offloaded out of the tackle to fellow Pacific Islanders, Ofisa Treviranus who went storming through. Treviranus switched the ball beautifully back inside to Marland Yarde who finished off the try. Homer’s conversion saw Irish ahead again.
Irish were in the ascendancy and extended their lead further with a fifth Homer penalty leading into the final quarter.
Wasps enjoyed plenty of possession in the final quarter and were unable to break through the Irish wall of defence. Homer kicked his sixth penalty on 73 minutes to confirm the victory.
The Exiles travel to Northampton next Saturday before returning to Madejski Stadium on 23rd March for the St Patrick’s Party fixture with Worcester Warriors.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 6-0, 6-3, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9, 11-16, 14-16, 14-19, 17-19, 24-19, 27-19, 30-19
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: Homer (4, 14, 38, 48, 58, 73); Tries: Geraghty (25), Yarde (53) Conversions: Homer; London Wasps: Penalties: Jones (22, 28, 33, 41); Tries: Wade (36); Conversions: Jones
15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Guy Armitage; 12. Shane Geraghty (rep: Sailosi Tagicakibau, 59); 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Pat Phibbs (rep: Jack Moates, 65); 1. Max Lahiff (rep: Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 74); 2. Scott Lawson; 3. Halani Aulika (rep: Leo Halavatau, 69); 4. George Skivington (rep: Kieran Low, 74); 5. Bryn Evans (Captain); 6. Matt Garvey (rep: Jon Fisher, 58); 7. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Jamie Gibson, 67); 8. Chris Hala’ufia
Replacements: 16. Davy McGregor; 17. Jerry Yanuyanuytawa; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Kieran Low; 20. Jamie Gibson; 21. Jon Fisher; 22. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 23. Jack Moates
15. Hugo Southwell (Captain) (rep: Charlie Hayter, 69); 14. Christian Wade (rep: Charlie Davies, 65); 13. Elliot Daly; 12. Chris Bell; 11. Tom Varndell; 10. Stephen Jones (rep: Nick Robinson, 62); 9. Joe Simpson; 1. Zak Taulafo (rep: Simon McIntyre, 63); 2. T Rhys Thomas (rep: Tom Lindsay, 69; 3. Will Taylor (rep: Lorenzo Romano, 69); 4. James Cannon; 5. Marco Wentzel; 6. Ashley Johnson; 7. Jonathan Poff (rep: Alex Rae, 73); 8. Sam Jones (rep: Matt Everard, 59)
Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay; 17. Simon McIntyre; 18. Lorenzo Romano; 19. Alex Rae; 20. Matt Everard; 21. Charlie Davies; 22. Nick Robinson; 23. Charlie Hayter
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth