12 December 2020
London Irish kicked-off their European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign with a bonus-point victory on the road against SU Agen.
The Exiles went over the hosts’ try line five times on their way to a clinical victory in France.
Albert Tuisue opened the scoring on 11 minutes, crashing over from the back of a rolling maul. Theo Brophy Clews was unable to add the conversion, but Irish led 0-5.
Just two minutes later, the hosts cut that lead via the boot of Noel Reid. The fly-half converted a penalty attempt to put SU Agen on the scoreboard, 3-5.
Big tackles were the main talking point over the next passage of the match. Lovejoy Chawatama, Will Goodrick-Clarke, Chunya Munga and Albert Tuisue all delivering their share of big hits as Irish looked to grab a hold on the game.
With 27 minutes on the clock, they took another step to doing so. Tuisue replicating his first try by bundling his way over from another destructive rolling maul. Brophy Clews added the extras and Irish led 3-12.
The Exiles got their third through Steve Mafi. The Tonga international popped out of a maul, to everyone’s surprise, and sprinted over the try line. Brophy Clews was again on hand to add the conversion and Irish headed into half-time with a 3-19 lead over their French opposition.
It didn’t take long into the second half for the Exiles to secure the fourth and bonus-point try. Ollie Hassell-Collins forced his way up the touchline to squeeze into the corner. The conversion was missed, and London Irish led 3-24.
On 50 minutes, Agen showed their determination, going over the Exiles’ try line thanks to Tevita Railevu. The winger showed good strength to add five points to their score and reduce the deficit to 8-24.
Jacob Atkins, fresh from the replacements, took his chance from the kicking tee, converting a penalty attempt to push Irish away from the hosts on the scoreboard.
Will Joseph then entered the match, making his club debut, before later being joined by fellow London Irish Academy member, Luke Green who was also making his first senior appearance in the green jersey.
Just before the clock went red, Phil Cokanasiga got in on the scoring act. The centre powered his way over from short-range to finish the match in style. Atkins added the conversion and London Irish secured the bonus-point 8-34 victory.
Score Sequence (SU Agen first): 0-5, 3-5, 3-12, 3-19, 3-24, 8-24, 8-27, 8-34
SU Agen: Tries: Railevu (50) Conversions: Penalties: Reid (14)
London Irish: Tries: Tuisue (11) (27), Mafi (34) Hassell-Collins (44) Cokanasiga (79) Conversions: Brophy Clews (28) (35) Atkins (80) Penalties: Atkins (58)
15 Valentin Saurs, 14 Gabriel Ibitoye, 13 Sam Vaka, 12 Jordan Puletua, 11 Tevita Railevu, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Yoann Cottin, 1 Fernandez Cottin, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 3 Kévin Yaméogo, 4 Corentin Vernet, 5 Jeremy Jordaan, 6 Camille Gerondeau, 7 Jessy Jegerlhener (c), 8 Dylan Hayes.
16 Clément Martinez, 17 Walter Desmaison, 18 Alex Burin, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Timilai Rokoduru, 21 Louis Gauban, 22 Raphaël Lagarde, 23 Nathan Decron
15 Tom Parton, 14 James Stokes, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins (Joseph 66), 10 Theo Brophy Clews (Atkins 45), 9 Ben Meehan (Brand 75), 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke (Elrington 54), 2 Matt Cornish (Matu’u 54), 3 Lovejoy Chawatama (Green 75), 4 Andrei Mahu, 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Steve Mafi (Curtis-Harris 70), 7 Jack Cooke (c), 8 Albert Tuisue (Smart 75).
16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Luke Green, 19 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 20 Josh Smart, 21 Rory Brand, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Will Joseph
Referee: Mr Chris Busby