London Irish sealed consecutive away wins in the Gallagher Premiership for the first time in three years with a 34-19, try bonus point victory over Newcastle Falcons in Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership.
The Exiles sprinted out of the blocks in the opening forty at Kingston Park, tries coming through Josh Basham, Tom Pearson and Danilo Fischetti but Newcastle finished off the half strongly.
They recorded two converted scores of their own, through Matthew Dalton and Jamie Blamire, before Carl Fearns’ effort levelled proceedings after the break.
Irish battled against a resolute Newcastle outfit, but their fourth and fifth tries from Matt Cornish and Ollie Hassell-Collins sealed the day as the final result stretches a run of four wins against Falcons in Premiership competition.
Irish started brightly in the North East, big carries from Ben Loader, Rob Simmons and Oliver Hoskins gaining valuable yards with a poor exit from Brett Connon leaving Falcons deep into their own half.
Former Newcastle back-rower Josh Basham put Irish ahead after finishing off a sensational offensive sequence started by a switch of play to the blindside, Tom Pearson playing out the back for Basham to score.
The Exiles were strong in defence too, a crunching tackle from Simmons forcing a knock-on and Hoskins then winning a scrum penalty.
The carrying from the travelling side at Kingston Park was immense, seemingly breaking the gain line almost every phase with capable handling to complement, but Falcons did well to put Irish into touch just when they were looking for a second score.
Another scrum penalty win for Irish, this time overturning possession, laid the platform for that second try as Declan Kidney’s side worked off a lineout and broke through the rearguard via Basham.
He was pulled down just short of the line, but it was fellow flanker Pearson who dotted down in the following phases around the fringes of the ruck as Jackson added his second conversion.
Space was there to expose down the right edge, with Will Joseph darting away as Irish would have the opportunity to go to the corner again, but a fumble off the lineout prevented Irish extending their lead, at least for now.
A storming maul formed in the midfield generated some nice momentum, and after Falcons didn’t release, Irish opted to find touch and went again from the maul.
Danilo Fischetti, one of two returning members of the Azzurri, bagged his first Premiership try with a short burst over the whitewash, but a reply was not far away from the hosts.
Matthew Dalton would score with a carry into the goal area, picking and going after his side retained possession from the restart and Connon’s conversion reduced arrears to 12 for Newcastle.
Falcons found themselves with more time on the ball and used it effectively before the opening half’s conclusion, Jamie Blamire forcing his way over for a late surge by Dave Walder’s outfit.
Irish returned from the interval five points to the good, yet Falcons continued with the similar intent they left the field with as Matias Orlando broke the line with a piecing carry.
Dave Walder’s men would reap the rewards of Irish not supporting their body weight in defence, going over via a catch-and-drive maul finished off by Carl Fearns to level the game.
The Tynesiders were pinged for not rolling away, and Irish gained territory into the red zone with a Jackson touch finder that was followed by a lineout collected by replacement Josh Caulfield.
Irish’s go-to crash ball carrier Benhard Janse van Rensburg pulled his side forward, and quick thinking from Ben White saw the Scotland international expose a gap down the shortside to offload to Matt Cornish to notch the try bonus.
Irish began stretching the field with typical expansive play firstly through Ben Loader’s rapid run and then switching back to the left edge in the next phase.
The ball went through the hands of Janse van Rensburg, Pearson, and finally Ollie Hassell-Collins, who finished excellently in contact to take the score to 31-19.
An agonizing spill close to the line could have wrapped up the game sooner as Jackson nabbed a pass to intercept and combine with Luca Morisi, Ben White then carrying brilliantly but a rare instance of loose handling failing the scrum-half was the undoing.
Five minutes remaining on the clock and Irish needed to see out the game, and a dominant shove at the put-in won back the ball with replacements Facundo Gigena, Matt Cornish and Lovejoy Chawatama putting in a massive shift.
The front-row union would be called on again to uphold the set-piece after a Newcastle knock-on, then winning another penalty to enable Jackson to split the posts and all-but conclude the clash.
Chawatama came up with another clutch contribution to steal a loose ball when his opponents were chasing a potential losing bonus point, as Irish took maximum points from Kingston Park.
Score sequence (London Irish second): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 0-19, 5-19, 7-19, 12-19, 14-19, 19-19, 19-24, 19-26, 19-31, 19-34.
Newcastle Falcons: Tries: Dalton (31), Blamire (38), Fearns (48); Conversions: Connon (32) (39).
London Irish: Tries: Basham (4), Pearson (18), Fischetti (28), Cornish (53), Hassell-Collins (60); Conversions: Jackson (5) (19) (54); Penalties: Jackson (78).
Newcastle Falcons :
15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando (Lucock 66), 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon (Schoeman 65), 9 Michael Young (c) (Stuart 70); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Mulipola 59), 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison (Tampin 65), 4 Matthew Dalton (Marshall 69), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 7 Callum Chick, 8 Carl Fearns (Lockwood 55).
16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Tom Marshall, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Pete Lucock.
15 Ben Loader (Stokes 77), 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Will Joseph (Morisi 47), 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White (O’Sullivan 77); 1 Danilo Fischetti (Gigena 66), 2 Agustín Creevy (Cornish 43), 3 Oliver Hoskins (Chawatama 67) 4 Api Ratuniyarawa (Caulfield 50), 5 Rob Simmons (c), 6 Josh Basham, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South (Rogerson 68).
16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 James Stokes.
Referee: Mr Christophe Ridley