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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 15 Feb 2014
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
TV Match Official: Rowan Kitt
Assistant Referee: Robin Goodliffe
Assistant Referee: Darren Gamage
The Exiles had to play the Last 30 minutes with 14 men after Tomás O’Leary was shown a straight red card, but held their nerve and got the win thanks to a Shane Geraghty drop goal five minutes from time.
London Irish picked up where they left off in North London last weekend and made a sensational start early on against Wasps in a sunbathed High Wycombe. Ian Humphreys, who was the only change from the side that beat Saracens last weekend, crossed for the first try of the match after only four minutes.
Joe Simpson held the ball at the base of the ruck five metres out from his own goal line before passing to Elliot Daly. The young full back took slightly too long with his clearance and was charged down by the energetic Nic Rouse who foiled the ball into the hands of Ian Humphreys. The Ulsterman stepped one defender and dived over for his first try of the season. James O’Connor converted to give Irish the perfect start.
Things got better for the Exiles when James O’Connor stretched the lead to 10-0 with his first penalty of the match after Wasps illegally dragged down the Irish catch and drive.
Wasps, who by their own estimations, made a slow start to the match, cut the deficit to seven points with a Joe Carlisle penalty on 11 minutes. Irish were penalised for being offside in defence.
Tomás O’Leary, along with Humphreys, was controlling the game very well and playing in the right areas. After a long Humphreys kick deep into the Wasps 22 the Irish lineout turned the ball over and gave them a great attacking opportunity.
After Matt Parr was denied what would have been his second try in two weeks by the TMO, David Paice was not to be denied as he was bundled over by Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus to register Irish’s second score. Again O’Connor converted to put Irish 17-3 ahead.
Wasps needed a response urgently and they got it from a piece of individual brilliance from Elliot Daly. The full back beat four defenders to put Wasps in a great attacking position. The ball was recycled and worked wide where Andrea Masi who put a neat grubber kick in for James Short to chase. The winger got to the ball in the nick of time to give Wasps their first try of the contest.
Wasps controlled the remainder of the first half but failed to register any more points. Irish led 17-8 at the break.
The hosts were clearly fired up at the start of the second half with Elliot Daly again the thorn in the Irish side. He made another majestic run back in to the visitors 22 to put Wasps in a promising position. Their pressure led to a penalty and three points off the Carlisle boot to cut the Irish advantage to 17-11.
The talking point of the day happened around the 50 minute mark. Irish were awarded a kickable penalty in front of the posts, before referee Tim Wigglesworth signalled to talk to the TMO. When reviewed, footage showed Irish scrum half Tomás O’Leary using the boot on the head of a Wasps player meaning O’Leary was sent off and Irish played the remainder of the match with 14 men.
Irish moved Humphreys to scrum half and every other back in one position. The penalty Irish were initially given was reversed and Wasps booted the ball into Irish territory.
With the man advantage they began to eat away at the Irish lead. Firstly Carlisle added a further penalty to make it a three point ball game before a smart bit of play from the Exiles forwards allowed O’Connor to kick his second penalty and edge his side six points clear.
However Irish discipline was frequently punished by the accurate boot of Carlisle. The fly half added two further penalty goals to level the scores at 20-20 with 10 minutes remaining.
What followed was a monumental effort from the entire Irish team, led by their forward pack; as they pushed on to win the game. After a great driving effort from the pack, the ball was worked back to Shane Geraghty who nailed a drop goal from straight in front to win the game.
Irish held on for the final five minutes to record a hard fought and courageous victory.
Leicester Tigers are the visitors to Madejski Stadium next weekend for the next round of Aviva Premiership rugby.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 7-0, 10-0, 10-3, 17-3, 17-8, 17-11, 17-14, 20-14, 20-17, 20-20, 23-20
Scorers: London Irish; Tries: Humphreys (4), Paice (23); Conversions: O’Connor (2); Penalties: O’Connor (8, 63); Drop Goal: Geraghty (75); London Wasps; Penalties: Carlisle (11, 45, 63, 66, 70); Tries: Short (25)
15. Elliot Daly; 14. Will Helu, 13. Andrea Masi, 12. Chris Bell (Captain), 11. James Short; 10. Joe Carlisle (rep: Charlie Davies, 59), 9. Joe Simpson; 1. Matt Mullan (rep: Simon McIntyre, 70), 2. Carlo Festuccia (rep: Tom Lindsay, 67), 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley (rep: Philk Swainston, 70); 4. Tom Palmer (rep: Esteban Lozada, 32), 5. Kearnan Myall; 6. Ashley Johnson, 7. James Haskell,8. Sam Jones (rep: Nathan Hughes, 59)
Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Phil Swainston, 19. Esteban Lozada, 20. Nathan Hughes,21. Charlie Davies, 22. Tommy Bell, 23. Charlie Hayter
15. James O’Connor; 14. Alex Lewington (rep: Topsy Ojo, 76); 13.Eamonn Sheridan; 12.Shane Geraghty (rep: Myles Dorrian, 79); 11. Andrew Fenby; 10. Ian Humphreys (rep: Darren Allinson, 64); 9. Tomás O’Leary; 1. Matt Parr (rep: John Yapp, 55); 2. David Paice (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 76); 3. Jamie Hagan (rep: Leo Halavatau, 76); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Nic Rouse (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 67); 6. Kieran Low; 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Gerard Ellis, 76)
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. John Yapp; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Gerard Ellis; 21. Topsy Ojo; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Darren Allinson
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth