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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 29 Mar 2014
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Referee: Andrew Small
TV Match Official: Keith Lewis
Assistant Referee: Gareth Copsey
Assistant Referee: Andrew Watson
The hosts scored three tries to nil in a result that could have been so different had execution not let Brian Smith's side down.
There were three at least three occasions where Irish could have crossed the white-wash and had they, the outcome of the match could have been different.
The Exiles had trouble before kick-off as Captain George Skivington and flanker Kieran Low had to withdraw with back injuries. Ian Gough and Jebb Sinclair came into the starting team. Centre Eamonn Sheridan also withdrew after failing a late concussion test. That paved the way for Academy star, Tom Fowlie, to step into the centre with Fergus Mulchrone and he gave a fantastic account of himself.
Irish had the wind behind them in the first half and almost crossed for a try in the opening minute. A brilliant move saw Ofisa Treviranus and Matt Parr combine and the ball was passed from Shane Geraghty to Topsy Ojo who juggled the ball and just lost it at the vital moment when a try looked certain. Credit to Sam Smith who harried Ojo into losing the ball.
For all the Irish early pressure it was the hosts that took the lead on 13 minutes. New Zealand International Nick Evans used all of his experience and scored an opportunistic chip and chase try under the poles to the jubilation of the home support.
Referee Andrew Small penalised England Captain Chris Robshaw in the defensive line that gave James O'Connor the chance to get his side on the board which he duly accepted. Captain for the day Shane Geraghty had earlier turned down the chance to go for goal by opting to kick to the corner.
Nick Evans kicked his first penalty goal of the afternoon before Tom Fowlie, making his first Premiership start for the Exiles, put a great shot on Matt Hopper to force the ball forward. A Harlequins player picked the ball up and gave Irish a penalty shot. O'Connor kicked his second to cut the Quins lead to four points.
Irish had all the territory and possession and were beginning to get rewarded. Another offside penalty on the stroke of half time gave O'Connor the chance to reduce the arrears to just one point and he made no mistake to make the half time score Harlequins 10 London Irish 9.
The opening ten minutes of the second half was always going to be crucial. Irish got through this period unscathed but were unable to stop Nick Evans kicking his second penalty of the game only one minute later. Only minutes earlier James O'Connor had a long range penalty that missed to the right of the posts that would have given his side the lead.
Harlequins were beginning to dominate possession and territory and with the crowd behind them, began to work their way into scoring opportunities. the Exiles best chance in the second half came when Marland Yarde broke down the left hand touch line. The England winger came very close to scoring but when he tried to pass the ball back inside Harlequins were able to intervene and avert danger.
The hosts scored their second try of the game with 10 minutes remaining. Danny Care collected the ball from the driving maul five metres out and sent a wide pass to Sam Smith who dived in at the corner. Conor O'Shea's side were after a bonus point and when Mike Brown scored four minutes from the end the crowd believed it might be possible.
The Exiles however didn't allow a fourth score and the game finished Harlequins 23 London Irish 9. the Exiles welcome Newcastle Falcons to Madesjski Stadium in two week's time for Round 19 of Aviva Premiership rugby.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-7, 3-7, 3-10, 6-10, 9-10, 9-13, 9-18, 9-23
Scorers: Harlequins: Evans (13), Smith (70), Brown (76); Conversions: Evans; Penalties: Evans (32, 51); London Irish: Penalties: O'Connor (25, 35, 40)
15. James O’Connor; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Tom Fowlie (rep: Alex Lewington, 67); 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Shane Geraghty (Captain); 9. Tomás O’Leary (rep: Darren Allinson, 50); 1. Matt Parr (John Yapp, 56); 2. Jimmy Stevens (rep: Mike Mayhew, 56); 3. Jamie Hagan (rep: Leo Halavatau, 50); 4. Ian Gough (rep: Gerard Ellis, 62); 5. Nic Rouse; 6. Jebb Sinclair (rep: Jonny Harris, 69); 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew; 17. John Yapp; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jonny Harris; 20. Gerard Ellis; 21. Alex Lewington; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Darren Allinson
15. Mike Brown; 14. Ollie Lindsay-Hague; 13. Matt Hopper; 12. Jordan Turner-Hall; 11. Sam Smith; 10. Nick Evans; 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler; 2. Dave Ward; 3. Kyle Sincklar (rep: Paul Doran Jones, 66); 4. Nick Kennedy (rep: Charlie Matthews, 65); 5. George Robson; 6. Luke Wallace (rep: Tom Guest, 57); 7. Chris Robshaw (Captain); 8. Nick Easter
Replacements: 16. Max Crumpton; 17. Mark Lambert; 18. Paul Doran Jones; 19. Charlie Matthews; 20. Tom Guest; 21. Karl Dickson; 22. Ben Botica; 23. Tim Molenarr
Referee: Andrew Small
Click here to hear the views of Brian Smith after the match