London Irish’s postseason prospects concluded this afternoon with a 45-21 reverse at the hands of London rivals Saracens in Round 23 of the Gallagher Premiership at the StoneX Stadium.

The Exiles opened the fixture with a Paddy Jackson penalty and Matt Rogerson touchdown, an advantage that was reversed at the hands of Owen Farrell’s kicking and an Alex Goode try before the break.

Irish would not regain the lead again in the tie, despite two further penalty conversions from Jackson that cut the lead to just four, after Sean Maitland’s effort to open the second stanza.

The onslaught from the Men in Black didn’t halt with three more tries coming from front-row forwards Theo Dan and Eroni Mawi (2), Irish’s Mike Willemse bagging the final score of the day off the back of a lineout move.

The travelling side had the upper hand at the set-piece from the off, Saracens being forced into collapsing a rolling maul from the kick-off whilst Irish redeemed themselves at the put-in and reversed possession after an initial knock-on.

The scrum win afforded out-half Paddy Jackson a shot at goal just shy of the 10-metre line, which he duly converted to give the Exiles first blood on derby day.

The first restart of the game went out on the full and Irish maintained control of territory and possession in the minutes after, exciting sequences eventually subsiding with a forward pass on the left edge.

Rory Jennings registered the game’s first 50:22 kick after drifting to the right wing to lay a platform for his side deep in Sarries territory.

Metre-absorbing carries off the lineout from loose forwards So’otala Fa’aso’o and Tom Pearson preceded the final piece in the back-row, captain Matt Rogerson, stretching over for the game’s first try!

The north Londoners’ discipline was found lacking after not rolling away at successive breakdowns, Irish still looking good with another solid nudge to touch from Jackson, but blocking in the loose denied them a second.

A not straight lineout and faltering scrum saw the hosts fall foul of referee Adam Leal once again, the pressure firmly on Saracens until a botched fielding of a clearance gave them some much-needed release.

With the heat ramping up at the StoneX, a physical battle was starting to take shape but an offside call on Irish allowed for Owen Farrell’s first points of the game from the tee.

A spill in midfield from Marco Riccioni gave Irish another put in, and after good work with ball spread out to the left, a recycle of play saw a looping kick from hand by Rory Jennings situate the Exiles high up the park.

Some stout defence was required for Declan Kidney’s men before the end of the opening period, meeting every carry with heavy resistance before Max Malins looked to have dotted down, only to spill in the goal area in contact.

Saracens would come again though and for not rolling away, Irish were penalised and Farrell would bisect the posts for a second time to cut arrears to four for his outfit.

The first reversal in the lead of the game saw Saracens go in front from a counter-attacking score finished by Alex Goode and converted by Owen Farrell, the scoreline standing at 13-10 at the interval.

A reduction in complement straight after returning from the sheds put the Exiles up against it with Rob Simmons’ yellow card swiftly capitalised upon by former Exile Sean Maitland, who dotted down in the corner.

A Saracens spillage, with an Irish scrum win soon after, meant Jackson could find touch and in the subsequent phases Ben White was played by an offside opponent.

Play was called back and the Irish out-half slotted the three points to make it a one-score game, with Henry Arundell introduced for Ollie Hassell-Collins thereafter.

A hit worthy of any highlight reel from Fa’aso’o on replacement Hugh Tizard was complemented by a jackal turnover from Tom Pearson set Jackson up for three more points to convert, Kidney’s men only four points behind at this stage.

Saracens worked their way into the opposing 22 after successive scrum penalties however and took the three points on offer to increase the distance between the sides to seven.

Theo Dan would shunt his way over via a rolling maul for Mark McCall’s side in the minutes after to put the league leaders truly into the driving seat, another maul try from replacement Eroni Mawi only extending their cushion.

Saracens began to put their imprint on the game, initially through a scrum penalty win and then with kicking from hand – after a high tackle, Farrell added three more to his tally, with a Mawi brace completed with three minutes remaining.

Irish’s fight remained until the end, however, a quick tap and go penalty from Jennings and penalty win for the Exiles saw Mike Willemse dot down in the corner after a well-worked lineout drill.


Score sequence (London Irish second): 0-3, 0-8, 0-10, 3-10, 6-10, 11-10, 13-10, 18-10, 20-10, 20-13, 20-16, 23-16, 28-16, 30-16, 35-16, 38-16, 43-16, 45-16, 45-21

Saracens: Tries: Goode (40), Maitland (43), Dan (62), Mawi (67) (77); Conversions: Farrell (40) (44) (63) (78); Penalties: Farrell (27) (36).

London Irish: Tries: Rogerson (14), Willemse (79); Conversions: Jackson (15); Penalties: Jackson (5) (49) (54); Yellow Cards: Simmons (42).



15 Alex Goode, 14 Max Malins (Hartley 76), 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Sean Maitland (Harris 73), 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ivan van Zyl (de Haas 71); 1 Mako Vunipola (Mawi 65), 2 Theo Dan (Lewis 73), 3 Marco Riccioni (Judge 69), 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill (Tizard 41), 6 Nick Isiekwe (Knight 75), 7 Ben Earl, 8 Jackson Wray.


16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Toby Knight, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Olly Hartley, 23 Ben Harris.


London Irish:

15 Ben Loader, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White (O’Sullivan 68); 1 Danilo Fischetti (Haffar 72), 2 Agustín Creevy (Willemse 45), 3 Oliver Hoskins (Chawatama 60), 4 Api Ratuniyarawa (Munga 55), 5 Rob Simmons, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson (González 68), 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o (Cunningham-South 55).


16 Mike Willemse, 17 Tarek Haffar, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Juan Martín González, 21 Chandler Cunningham-South, 22 Hugh O’Sullivan, 23 Henry Arundell.


Referee: Mr Adam Leal

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