4 October 2014
London Irish fought back valiantly in the second half against Northampton Saints this afternoon but were unable to sneak the win as the visitors held out for a 19-12 victory.
A late surge by the Irish pack set up an opportunity to snatch a draw and gave the nearly 7,000 in attendance hope, however the ball was knocked on and with it went the match.
Shane Geraghty kicked all of his sides 12 points in the second half after the visitors took a 10-0 lead into the break. Stephen Myler booted 14 points in addition to a first half try for Luther Burrell.
Both sides came into the contest off the back of good wins last weekend, although you wouldn't have thought it based on the opening 40 minutes. The first half was a particularly scrappy affair, neither team was able to put their stamp on the contest and after half an hour of play it was only a Stephen Myler penalty, after 15 minutes, that separated the sides.
Irish were kicking more than we have seen in recent weeks, the wet conditions pre-match perhaps playing a part in that tactic, although Andrew Fenby looked dangerous in attack whenever he had the ball in hand.
The visitors were looking to take Irish on around the fringes of the breakdown and when Kahn Fotual'i replaced Lee Dickson after 19 minutes the Saints pace in attack certainly picked up.
Luther Burrell crossed for the first try of the match on 35 minutes. After an ariel kicking battle, the ball was claimed by Ken Pisi who darted off on a run across field into space where he passed to Burrell just inside the Irish half. The big centre then ran away from Blair Cowan and with Shane Geraghty looking to defend the outside channel, was dragged down metres short of the line. However, his momentum enabled him to place the ball over for the try. Myler added the extras to make it 10-0.
The Exiles withstood a late onslaught before the break but held out to go in 10-0 down at half time.
After some stern words from captain George Skivington and Brian Smith at half time, the Exiles came out fighting. Shane Geraghty reduced the arrears to 10-3, then 10-6 with two well struck penalties, before Myler replied with his second penalty of the game for the visitors to make it 6-13 after 53 minutes.
Geraghty and Myler continued to trade penalties and with the score at 12-16 with over ten minutes left, the contest was there for the taking.
It wasn't to be however as a fourth Myler penalty with two minutes left broke Irish hearts.
Brian Smith's charges had one more throw of the dice in the dying stages but the ball was knocked on at the pivotal moment and referee Matthew Carley brought an end to proceedings.
Next weekend sees the final block of Premiership matches and a trip to Sandy Park to take on Exeter Chiefs.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 0-10, 3-10, 6-10, 6-13, 9-13, 9-16, 12-16, 12-19
Scorers: Northampton: Penalties: Myler (15, 53, 60, 78); Tries: Burrell (35); Conversions: Myler; London Irish: Penalties: Geraghty (43, 50, 57, 64)
15. Andrew Fenby; 14. Aex Lewington; 13. Fergus Mulchrone;; 12. Shane Geraghty; 11. James Short; 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Tomas O'Leary (rep: Darren Allinson, 60); 1. Tom Court (rep: Matt Parr, 60); 2. David Paice; 3. Halani Aulika (rep: Geoff Cross, 72); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Jebb Sinclair; 6. Kieran Low; 7. Blair Cowan (rep: Tom Guest, 60); 8. Luke Narraway
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. Matt Parr 18. Geoff Cross; 19. Dan Leo; 20. Tom Guest; 21. Darren Allinson; 22. Eamonn Sheridan; 23. Topsy Ojo
15. Ben Foden; 14. Ken Pisi; 13. George Pisi; 12. Luther Burrell; 11. George North; 10. Stephen Myler; 9. Lee Dickson (Captain) (rep: Kahn Fotuali'i, 19); 1. Alex Waller (rep: Ethan Waller, 78); 2. Mike Haywood (rep: Ross McMillan, 75); 3. Salesi Ma'afu (rep: Gareth Denman, 60); 4. Courtney Lawes; 5. James Craig; 6. Calum Clark; 7. Jon Fisher (rep: Phil Dowson, 65); 8. Samu Manoa
Replacements: 16. Ross McMillan; 17. Ethan Waller; 18. Gareth Denman; 19. Phil Dowson; 20. Teimana Harrison; 21. Kahn Fotuali'i; 22. Will Hooley; 23. Tom Collins
Referee: Matthew Carley