26 August 2016
London Irish rounded off their pre-season programme with a 46-21 victory over Loughborough Students to maintain their 100% record under Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy.
Irish ran in seven tries to put the National League 1 side to the sword ahead of next weekend’s season opener against Doncaster Knights at the Madejski Stadium.
An impressive win at Harlequins coupled with victories at home to Nottingham and Loughborough is just the tonic ahead of what Exiles’ chief Kennedy calls an ‘extremely competitive’ Championship campaign.
Irish got off to a flying start on eight minutes when Jebb Sinclair added the finishing touches to a dominant rolling maul. The visitors had stood firm to early Irish pressure until the Exiles fashioned out their first score. Tom Parton, a key member of the successful under-18’s side, converted from the touchline via the upright to give Irish a 7-0 lead.
However, Loughborough who were dogged throughout the contest, were soon on level terms thanks to centre Owen Waters, who scythed in at the corner to the delight of his teammates. Josh Sharp’s sublime touchline conversion made it seven apiece.
The Exiles retook the lead on 22 minutes by virtue of a Jason Harris-Wright try following excellent work from tight-head prop Richard Palframan. The South African was the catalyst with an explosive burst through the heart of Loughborough’s defensive line to set the platform. Parton was unable to add the extras and Irish were 12-7 ahead.
Kennedy’s men extended their lead with the half hour mark approaching – Darren Allinson dotted down from close range. Fijian number-eight Senitiki Nayola was causing havoc with his marauding carries. Parton’s conversion made it 19-7.
Not deterred by the score line, Loughborough demonstrated their resilience and reduced the deficit just before the break when openside flanker Andrew Boyce swept in at the corner. Sharp’s radar boot closed the gap to 19-14.
Loughborough picked up from where they left off following the interval with full-back Will Edwards sprinting half the length of the field to cross the whitewash emphatically. Sharp made no mistake from bang in front of the posts to increase his side’s advantage to 21-19.
Despite the early set-back, Irish kept their composure to regain the initiative moments later with two tries in quick succession. First, Irish forced their way over the line from a five metre line out, before skipper for the night Fergus Mulchrone latched onto Brendan McKibbin’s neat kick over the top to score in the corner.
The hosts began to turn on the style, and with just over 10 minutes remaining Irish pushed home their advantage with two further scores. Conor Murphy pounced on a cross field kick to touch down for a well worked try on 68 minutes. And with the final whistle looming, Gerard Ellis coasted through a field of bodies to get his name on the scoresheet to end the game 46-21.
London Irish now prepare for thier first Championship game of the season agaisnt Doncaster on Saturday 3rd September (K.O 3pm). Adult tickets start at £20 and kids are just £3! Click here to buy online or call 0118 968 1016.
London Irish: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Jacob Atkins, 13 Fergus Mulchrone (C), 12 Ross Neal, 11 Matt Williams, 10 Tom Parton, 9 Darren Allinson, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Jerry Sexton, 5 Will Lloyd, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 8 Senitiki Nayola
Replacements: 16 Tom Court, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Jack Cooke, 20 Max Northcote-Green, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Connor Murphy, 23 Ben Loader
Loughborough Students: 15 Will Edwards, 14 Jack Stapely, 13 Charlie Dockery, 12 Owen Waters, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Josh Sharp, 9 George De Cothi, 1 Ben Christie, 2 Isaac Miller (c), 3 Riccardo Brugnara, 4 Theo Vukasinovic, 5 Matt Macpherson, 6 Luke Frost, 7 Andrew Boyce, 8 Conor Gracey
Replacements: 16 James Page, 17 James Lasis, 18 Josh Toms, 19 Pip Dickinson, 20 Ollie Adams, 21 Ben Betts, 22 Simon Pitfield, 23 Harry Nuttall, 24 Max Berry, 25 Harry Simmons, 26 Callum Watson, 27 Mark Dixon, 28 Richie Lewis, 29 Jordan Olowofela, 30 Austin Beckett