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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sun 23 Feb 2014
Kick Off: 13:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: JP Doyle
TV Match Official: David Sainsbury
Assistant Referee: Roger Baileff
Assistant Referee: Paul Dix
Irish missed points at the poles and came very close to scoring what would have been the match winning score in the last minute of the game, however a knock on in the lead up meant it was not to be.
Irish made an excellent start after an uncharacteristic error from the visiting Tigers as they allowed the ball to bounce from the opening kick-off. The ball was finally gathered by Owen Williams who was immediately hit by three Irish defenders and forced to give away a penalty for holding on. James O’Connor added the straightforward attempt to put his side 3-0 ahead inside the opening minute.
Leicester replied by forcing an Irish error. Jamie Gibson, who supporters will know well, executed one of his trademark charge downs of a Darren Allinson box kick to give his new side a five metre scrum. Three dominant Tigers scrums followed before Ben Youngs sniped from a metre out and dived in at the corner. Owen Williams’ conversion drifted wide, but nevertheless his side hit the lead.
The hosts worked their way back into the contest with Humphreys and Geraghty creating nice loop and long passes that allowed James O’Connor, Andrew Fenby and Alex Lewington room to run. Pressure turned into another three points with O’Connor kicking his second goal of the game to put Irish back in front at 6-5.
Irish continued to put the visitors under pressure in their own 22, and after a string of penalties were given away, Irish extended their lead to 9-5 with a third successful penalty from the Australian full back.
Irish errors were costing them dearly and when O’Connor was penalised for accidently running behind Kieran Low, Leicester kicked to the corner and their catch and drive led to a second try with Logovi'i Mulipola coming up with the score.
The Samoan’s try gave his side the lead at 9-10 and that is how it remained until half time.
Leicester started the second half with a man advantage with Eamonn Sheridan in the sin bin for the Exiles. They took full advantage of the extra man when Vereniki Goneva evaded three attempted Irish tacklers to run in at the corner. Williams added the extras to stretch the visitors ahead by 9-17.
With their tales up and their scrum dominant, Owen Williams added to his sides score with his first penalty of the match and left Irish 11 points adrift moving into the final quarter.
Irish continued to play and when O’Connor and then Humphreys kicked penalty goals, Irish were five points adrift with nine minutes left.
Marland Yarde came on after 50 minutes and as the game started to break up he was instigating play from deep and running the ball back into the Tigers half. With only a couple of minutes left Irish ran from their own 22 and got two within four metres of the Leicester line. Over 9,000 supporters were up applauding when they thought Jebb Sinclair had grabbed a last gasp try to win the game. However it was not to be as he was denied by the TMO.
Leicester held on for the win and Irish came away with a losing bonus point. Brian Smith has six days to rest and reignite his side and prepare them for the trip to Exeter next Saturday.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-5, 6-5, 9-5, 9-10, 9-17, 9-20, 12-20, 15-20
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: O’Connor (1, 17, 26, 61), Humphreys (71); Leicester: Tries: Youngs (9), Mulipola (36), Goneva (47); Conversions: Williams; Penalties: Williams (55)
15. James O’Connor; 14. Alex Lewington (rep: Topsy Ojo, 71); 13.Eamonn Sheridan; 12.Shane Geraghty; 11. Andrew Fenby (rep: Marland Yarde, 51); 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Darren Allinson (rep: Sean Kennedy, 63); 1. Matt Parr (rep: John Yapp, 55); 2. David Paice (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 72); 3. Jamie Hagan (rep: Leo Halavatau, 10); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Nic Rouse; 6. Kieran Low (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 52); 7. Blair Cowan (rep: Gerard Ellis, 72); 8. Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. John Yapp; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Gerard Ellis; 21. Topsy Ojo; 22. Marland Yarde; 23. Sean Kennedy
15. Mathew Tait; 14. Blaine Scully; 13. Vereniki Goneva; 12. Dan Bowden (rep: Toby Flood, 70); 11. Adam Thompstone; 10. Owen Williams (rep: Scott Hamilton, 73); 9. Ben Youngs (rep: David Mele, 73); 1. Marcos Ayerza; 2. Rob Hawkins; 3. Logovi'i Mulipola; 4. Louis Deacon; 5. Ed Slater (Captain); 6. Jamie Gibson; 7. Julian Salvi (rep: Steve Mafi, 71); 8. Jordan Crane (rep: Thomas Waldrom, 64)
Replacements: 16. Neil Briggs; 17. Boris Stankovich; 18. Fraser Balmain; 19. Steve Mafi; 20. Thomas Waldrom; 21. David Mele; 22. Scott Hamilton; 23. Toby Flood
Referee: JP Doyle