20 October 2018
London Irish made it seven wins out of seven with a 26-17 bonus-point victory over Doncaster Knights at Castle Park.
Tries from Blair Cowan, Ben Loader, Fergus Mulchrone and Motu Matu’u secured maximum points for the Exiles, who now prepare for the visit of Cornish Pirates next weekend.
The Exiles got off to a flying start eight minutes into the contest, Cowan dotting down from a driving lineout after referee Neil Chivers awarded the visitors a penalty for interference at the breakdown. Ben Meehan’s exquisite touchline conversion gave Declan Kidney’s men the advantage at 7-0.
Irish were good value for their lead, England U20 winger Loader a constant threat in the opening exchanges.
After Knights fly-half Kurt Morath cut the gap to 7-3 with a penalty on 13 minutes, Loader touched down with a sublime solo effort. The Berkshire-born speedster shrugged off a string of Knights defenders to slide over under the posts. Meehan cannoned the upright with what appeared to be a simple conversion, but the visitors led 12-3.
Seemingly in control of proceedings, Irish were hit with a sucker-punch on 25 minutes when Knights scrum-half Tom James collected Joshua Tyrell’s neat offload to cross under the posts. Morath added the extras, with Irish holding a slender 12-10 lead.
Not deterred by Doncaster’s score, Irish registered their third try of the afternoon through Mulchrone just passed the half hour mark. Meehan was the catalyst, feeding Mulchrone with an inside pass and the Mancunian centre powered his way to the line to extend his side’s supremacy to 19-10.
Irish sealed the try bonus-point on 33 minutes, Samoan international hooker Matu’u touching down from another dominant lineout move to bag his second score of the campaign. Meehan’s conversion made it 26-10.
Doncaster finished the first half strongly, winger Lewis denied at full tilt by a try-saving Tom Parton tackle. The South Yorkshire outfit were causing the Exiles no end of problems in the defensive department, but the score remained 26-10 going into the break.
Irish were frustrated by a steely Doncaster defence throughout the second half, with hard-hitting centres Brendan Macken and Bryce Campbell making positive in roads towards the hosts’ whitewash.
However, it was Doncaster who scored the only try of the second period courtesy of centre Richard Hayes. Curtis Wilson’s explosive line break down the far side got Doncaster to within inches of the try line, before the ball was moved wide to Hayes for the score. Seniloli converted to reduce the margin to 26-17.
Doncaster tested Irish’s defensive resolve in the dying embers of the game, but the visitors, spearheaded by skipper Josh McNally, ensured the spoils headed down the M1.
Tries: Cowan (8), Loader (16), Mulchrone (31), Matu’u (33)
Cons: Meehan (9) (31) (33)
Tries: James (25), Hayes (75)
Cons: Morath (26), Seniloli (76)
Pens: Morath (13)
Doncaster Knights: Cowell, Wilson, Hayes, Creed, Lewis (McColl, 62), Morath (Foley, 48), James (Seniloli, 60), Hislop (List, 58), Malcolm, Quigley (Mullen, 45, Sproston, 75), Eames, Challinor, Ryan (Booth, 66), Hills, Tyrell
London Irish: Parton (Atkins, 71), Loader, Macken, Mulchrone (Campbell, 40), McLean, Meehan, McKibbin, Reid (Hobbs-Awoyemi, 40), Matu’u (Porecki, 55), Cilliers (Hoskins, 55), McNally (c), Paulo, Gilsenan, Cowan (Rogerson, 61), Schatz (Maddison, 71)
Referee: Neil Chivers