London Irish legend David Paice marked his 250th club appearance with a try and the man-of-the-match award during his side’s 35-12 bonus-point victory over London Welsh in the Greene King IPA Championship.
A mainstay of the Exiles’ pack for 13 years, Paice crossed for the 19th try of his career four minutes into the second half to set Irish on their way to maximum points.
Further scores from Fergus Mulchrone, Sebastian De Chaves and Brendan McKibbin ensured the Exiles made it six wins out of six going into back-to-back British and Irish Cup fixtures.
Irish surged into a 9-0 lead midway through the first half courtesy of the boot of Tommy Bell, who slotted home three consecutive penalties. The nine point buffer gave Nick Kennedy’s men the springboard on which to push home their advantage in the shape of centre Mulchrone on the half hour mark. The Mancunian, who touched down for his first try of the season last weekend, latched onto Bell’s neat chip over the top to slide over the whitewash. Bell’s simple conversion extended his side’s lead to 16-0.
Irish were in control of affairs throughout the first-half, the pack underlining their supremacy up front with a physical edge that Welsh were unable to snaffle. A deserved 16-0 lead at the break gave Irish the impetus to go in search of the try bonus-point. And Paice’s converted try just after the interval, the 95th point of his tenure, was just the platform Irish craved. Befitting of the occasion, former England international Paice crashed over following a catch and drive close to the visitors’ line. Bell’s sublime touchline conversion increased the deficit to 23-0.
A carbon-copy of Paice’s score, Sebastian De Chaves touched down 10 minutes later as Welsh continued to struggle against Irish’s colossal pack, spearheaded by former All Black international Ben Franks. Bell’s difficult conversion drifted wide, but Irish were in the ascendancy at 28-0.
The impressive Scott Steele was replaced by Brendan McKibbin at scrum-half midway through the second half, and the Aussie maestro made an immediate impression by securing the try bonus-point. McKibbin sniped his way to the line following a quick tap penalty close to Welsh’s try line. Bell’s conversion made it 35-0.
With 10 minutes remaining, Exiles boss Kennedy gave Paice a moment to savour as he allowed the hooker to receive a standing ovation when being replaced by Jason Harris-Wright. The bonus-point win very much in the bag, Irish were guilty of taking their foot off the peddle in the closing stages as Welsh grabbed two late consolation tries. First, winger Kristian Phillips coasted in at the corner, before Rob Lewis took Lovejoy Chawatama’s neat offload to score.
Welsh’s quick-fire double would not dampen what was a momentous day for the Paice family, Irish marking the occasion with a 35-12 triumph.
LITV post-match reaction with Assistant Coach Clark Laidlaw and man of the moment David Paice to follow tomorrow with match highlights.
Tries: Mulchrone, Paice, De Chaves, McKibbin
Cons: Bell (3)
Pens: Bell (3)
Tries: Phillips, Lewis
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Topsy Ojo(Tom Fowlie, 48, 60, 76), 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Tommy Bell, 9 Scott Steele (Brendan McKibbin, 59), 1 Tom Court (Harry Elrington, 66), 2 David Paice (c) (Jason Harris-Wright, 71), 3 Ben Franks (Ollie Hoskins, 54), 4 George Robson (Will Lloyd, 59), 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 6 Mike Coman (Joe Trayfoot, 54), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Tom Fowlie
London Welsh: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Heath Stevens, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Miles Mantella, 10 Glyn Hughes, 9 Ryan Glynn (Rob Lewis, 54), 1 Darryl Marfo (James Hallam, 46), 2 Adam Kwasnicki (Nathan Morris, 46), 3 Ben Cooper (Lovejoy Chawatama, 59), 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Josh Thomas Brown (Alex Woolford, 24), 6 Ben Pienaar (Jesse Liston, 59), 7 Ryan Hodson (c), 8 Kieran Murphy
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 James Hallam, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Alex Woolford, 20 Jesse Liston, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Chris Elder
Referee: Christophe Ridley