London Irish A secured a convincing victory over a strong Harlequins A side, winning 14-38 at Cobham RFC in the Premiership Rugby Shield last night.
The Exiles landed six tries to two in a great contest between the two sides, with both teams exhibiting moments of flair in front of a capacity crowd.
It was Irish that came out of the blocks firing, taking the lead just after 3 minutes. A delightful passing move saw fly-half Jacob Atkins float a lovely looped pass over to Finlay Rossiter, who was waiting outside to apply the finish to take the score to 0-5.
It didn’t take long for the Exiles to extend their lead to 0-10. There was great awareness shown by Isaac Curtis-Harris at the back of a 5m scrum, who offloaded quickly into the path of the on-rushing Jacob Atkins to dive over the line.
After a period of back-and-forth, it was Harlequins who capitalised on a lineout in the corner. Xavier Valentine drove through the Exiles defence, after it looked like they had done just enough to hold him up. Ollie Allsopp added the extras for Quins and drew them within 3 points, 7-10.
Just before the end of the half, sandwiched between a pair of yellow cards for Harlequins, Freddie Veitokani showed quick footwork to break through the Quins back line and find acres of space to run into. Jacob Atkins followed up with the conversion and Irish went into the break with a 7-17 lead.
The second half started with big tackles from both sides, but it was London Irish that made it count. A series of small gains towards the Quins 5m line gave Dave Porecki the chance to slide over, neatly ducking underneath challenges from all angles to score. Jacob Atkins converted to make it 7-24 early in the second.
It was a debut to remember for Belgium Tuatagaloa, within 5 minutes of coming on he had made his mark and scored for the Exiles. A darting run from deep into the corner and Irish had once again extended their lead. Jacob Atkins made no mistake from the tee, Irish were up 7-31 with less than 20 minutes left on the clock.
Quins then managed to claw one back after a fast break from Joe Gatus, bringing the scores to 14-31. However, it was Irish that had the final say, with a delightful little dink over the top for Aaron Phillips to charge in and touch down under the posts. The conversion was good, and Irish had sealed the 14-38 win.
Scoring Sequence (London Irish First): 5-0, 10-0, 10-7, 17-7, 24-7, 31-7, 31-14, 38-14
London Irish A
15. Alivereti Veitokani, 14. Joel Medcraft, 13.Bryce Campbell, 12. Izzy Moore-Aiono, 11.Ollie Brown, 10. Jacob Atkins, 9. Scott Steele, 1. Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2. David Porecki, 3. Bryan O’Connor, 4. Barney Maddison ©, 5. Chunya Munga, 6. Josh Smart, 7. Fin Rossiter, 8. Isaac Curtis-Harris
Replacements: 16. Ben Atkins, 17. Harry Elrington, 18. Luke Green, 19. Sam Collingridge, 20. Rory Brand, 21. Caolan Englefield, 22. Belgium Tuatagaloa, 23. Aaron Philips
15. Joe Gatus, 14. Louis Lynagh, 13. Luke Northmore, 12. Lennox Anyanwu, 11. Travis Ismaiel, 10. Ollie Allsopp, 9. Niall Saunders (C) 1. Mark Lambert, 2. Sam Riley, 3. Xavier Valentine, 4. Toby Freeman, 5. Hugh Tizard 6. Dino Lamb 7. Jack Kenningham 8. Renaldo Bothma
Replacements: 16. Bill Harding,17. Nick Auterac, 18. Kieran Sassone, 19. George Hammond, 20. Suvwe Obano, 21. Lloyd Wheeldon, 22. James Bourton, 23. Harry Barlow