A robust defensive display was the bedrock for London Irish’s 29-6 victory over Championship side Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood.
Tries from Ofisa Treviranus, Ciaran Hearn, Ben Meehan and Napolioni Nalaga gave the Exiles a morale-boosting win as the start of the Aviva Premiership season gets ever closer.
With just over two weeks to go until the London Double Header at Twickenham, Exiles’ boss Nick Kennedy will have been encouraged with his side’s performance in defence.
For much of the first-half Irish were put under considerable pressure by an Ealing outfit that will be harbouring ambitions of a top four finish in the Championship this season. Irish’s defensive nous was made to look even more impressive when they had to defend with 14-men towards the end of the first-half following Mike Coman's yellow card for an infringement at the ruck.
Aside from their defensive prowess, Irish looked sharp in attack with four tries although it should have been more had they not mullered a series of clear-cut chances after the break.
Samoan No. 8 Treviranus opened the scoring for Irish, crashing over from the back of a driving lineout five minutes into the contest. Tommy Bell’s touchline conversion gave Irish the early advantage at 7-3.
On 11 minutes Canadian international Hearn got himself on the scoresheet, powering his way in at the corner following a swift backline move involving Luke McLean and Ben Ransom. Bell was unable to add the extras, but the hosts led 12-3.
With half-time looming, Ealing cut the gap to 12-6 by virtue of another Lydon penalty after the impressive Coman was sin-binned.
The Exiles came out for the second period rejuvenated and on 46 minutes former Melbourne Rebel Meehan sniped his way over the line on the back of excellent forward play. Bell’s radar boot made it 22-6.
Nalaga was the catalyst for Irish’s final try 12 minutes from time when he morphed into a human wrecking ball to smash through a flurry of Ealing defenders on his way to their 22. From the breakdown, Irish built pressure before the ball was moved wide to Nalaga for the score. Bell’s sublime conversion from out wide gave the Exiles a 29-6 victory.
London Irish’s final pre-season friendly will be against Richmond FC at 3pm on Saturday 26 August. Tickets will be on sale for £10 on the gate at Richmond Athletic Ground.
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Ben Ransom, 10 James Marshall, 9 Ben Meehan, 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Ben Franks (c), 4 Will Lloyd, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 6 Mike Coman, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Lasha Lomidze, 24 Blair Cowan, 25 Senitiki Nayalo, 26 Napolioni Nalaga, 27 Fergus Mulchrone, 28 Matt Williams, 29 Topsy Ojo, 30 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 31 Franco van der Merwe (On Trial)