London Irish show outstanding effort in defeat to Saracens

London Irish opened their Aviva Premiership account with a hard fought defeat at the hands of Saracens at Twickenham in the opening match of the London Double Header.

Saracens scored four tries to London Irish’s two to record a 42 points to 20 victory. The score line does not do the London Irish performance justice. They showed plenty of heart and determination throughout. Saracens outmuscled Irish at the breakdown, and as a result won penalties to ensure Owen Farrell could keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Saracens took an early lead by virtue of a Owen Farrell penalty on four minutes with the Lions fly half at the heart of everything good Saracens did throughout the first half.

Jamie George crossed for the first of his brace of tries on 10 minutes. The Saracens pack carried well into the heart of the Irish defence and intricate slight of hands allowed George to crash over.

Irish stamped their authority on the contest with some fantastic line breaks by Topsy Ojo, who was wearing the number 15 shirt. Ojo’s second line break led to the Exiles first 3 points of the afternoon off the boot of Ian Humphreys.

Farrell cancelled out the Humphreys penalty before Saracens were celebrating their second try on 36 minutes. A great forward move off the lineout saw George finish well in the corner.

The Irish reply was emphatic. Marland Yarde, who chased the re-starts hard all day, stole the ball off Ernst Joubert and offloaded to David Paice who passed to Kieran Low who fended off two defenders before diving under the posts. Humphreys added the extras to make it 18-10 to Saracens.

Farrell kicked his third penalty on the stroke of half time to give Saracens a 21-10 lead at half time.

Saracens continued to build a score at the start of the second half with Farrell adding two quick penalties. Humphreys cut the deficit with his second penalty before British and Irish Lion, Mako Vunipola came off the bench, making an immediate impact as he crashed over for Saracens third try.

Topsy Ojo and Kieran Low continued to endear themselves to the large Twickenham crowd with Ojo working hard in attack and Low’s no nonsense robust carries and stern defence.

Sustained Irish pressure merited a score and they duly received it when Marland Yarde scooted over for his first try of the season. Chris Hala’ufia offloaded the ball beautifully out of the tackle in the lead up to the try.

Chris Ashton crossed for a try on 80 minutes to make the final score London Irish 20 Saracens 42. Irish travel to Worcester next Saturday for round two of the Aviva Premiership.

Score sequence: (London Irish first) 0-3, 0-10, 3-10, 3-13, 3-18, 10-18, 10-21, 10-24, 10-27, 13-27, 13-34, 20-34, 20-37, 20-42

Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Low (38), Yarde (70); Conversions: Humphrey (2); Penalties: Humphreys (28, 62); Saracens: Tries: George (10, 36), Mako Vunipola (64), Ashton (80); Conversions: Farrell (2); Penalties: Farrell (4, 28, 39, 42, 51, 74)

London Irish

15. Topsy Ojo; 14. Marland Yarde (rep: Andrew Fenby, 74); 13. Guy Armitage (rep: Shane Geraghty, 74); 12. Eamonn Sheridan; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Tomás O’Leary (Captain) (rep: Darren Allinson, 74); 1. Matt Parr (rep: Leo Halavatau, 53); 2. David Paice (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 74); 3. Halani Aulika (rep: John Yapp, 65); 4. Nic Rouse; 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Kieran Low (rep: Declan Danaher, 67); 7. Ofisa Treviranus; 8. Jon Fisher (rep: Chris Hala’ufia, 50)

Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17 John Yapp; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Declan Danaher; 20. Chris Hala’ufia; 21. Andrew Fenby; 22. Shane Geraghty; 23. Darren Allinson

Saracens

15. Chris Wyles (rep: Ben Ransom, 65); 14. Chris Ashton; 13. Joel Tomkins; 12. Brad Barritt; 11. David Strettle; 10. Owen Farrell; 9. Richard Wigglesworth (rep: Ben Spencer, 70); 1. Rhys Gill (rep: Mako Vunipola, 58); 2. Jamie George (rep: Scott Spurling, 78); 3. Matt Stevens; 4. Steve Borthwick (Captain) (rep: George Kruis, 20-25); 5. Alistair Hargreaves (rep: George Kruis, 59); 6. Billy Vunipola; 7. Jacques Burger (rep: Petrus Du Plessis, 78); 8. Ernst Joubert (rep: Jackson Wray, 59)

Replacements: 16. Scott Spurling; 17. Mako Vunipola; 18. Petrus du Plessis; 19. George Kruis; 20. Jackson Wray; 21. Ben Spencer; 22. Nils Mordt; 23. Ben Ransom

Referee: Greg Garner

Attendance: 68, 000

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