London Irish travelled to Rovigo Delta for their final group game of the European Challenge Cup and the Exiles came into the game knowing that a bonus point win would secure them a home quarter-final.
Head Coach Glenn Delaney made four changes to his side that beat FC Grenoble last week; with Jimmy Stevens starting at hooker, Tom Fowlie at outside centre, James Short on the wing and Tom Guest and Ofisa Treviranus switching positions with Guest moving to eight and Treviranus on the blindside flank.
The first half saw Rovigo pin Irish in their own 22 and after a frustrating half the scores were left at 10 – 6 at half time thanks to an Ofisa Treviranus try. The second half saw Irish put Rovigo to the sword, running in four tries including two more for Treviranus to leave the full time score at 6 – 34 and Irish picking up an important bonus point win.
The opening ten minutes saw Rovigo look to control the game, kicking well to keep London Irish pinned in their own 22. This pressure soon paid off for Rovigo as Halani Aulika was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on twelve minutes and Rovigo full back Stefan Basson knocked over a simple penalty form in front of the posts to claim a 3 – 0 lead for the hosts.
Irish struck back after 26 minutes. Ofisa Treviranus caught the Rovigo defence napping when he picked from the base of a ruck to sprint away from 35 metres, Geraghty added the extras to bring the score to 3 – 7 but a Basson penalty four minutes later reduced the deficit to just one point at 6 – 7.
The last play of the half saw the Exiles extend their lead. After winning a penalty on the Rovigo five metre line Captain George Skivington opted for the posts and Geraghty delivered, giving them a 10 – 6 lead as they headed in for half time.
Ten minutes into the second half Irish were reduced to fourteen men again. George Skivington was the man sent to the bin after Irish pulled down a Rovigo maul on their own five metre line but strong Irish defence held out Rovigo, turning them over allowing Shane Geraghty to clear their lines.
Rovigo were reduced to 14 men shortly after wards. Andrew Fenby broke through the Rovigo lines, forcing them into conceding a penalty, Basson the won to make way.
Irish quickly made the most of the space, James Short darting in at the corner. Shane Geraghty was unable to convert making the score 6 – 15. Treviranus bagged his second after 64 minutes, coming in on a crash ball to barrel over and make it 6 – 20.
Minutes later Andrew Fenby broke from deep, passing inside to Topsy Ojo who sprinted away to grab the bonus point try for the Exiles. Geraghty’s conversion brought it to 6 – 27.
Treviranus completed his hat-trick on 70- minutes. Tom Fowlie’s burst through the middle gave Irish the chance and a good offload inside to Treviranus saw him power over the line, Geraghty’s conversion making it 6 – 34 at full time.
Irish can now look forward to a home quarter-final, but first attentions turn to the LV= Cup and a trip to Scarlets next weekend.
Score Sequence: (Rovigo Delta first): 3 – 0, 3 – 7, 6 – 7, 6 – 10, 6 – 15, 6 – 20, 6 – 27, 6 - 34
Scorers:London Irish: Tries: Treviranus (26, 64, 70), Short (59), Ojo (66) Conversions: Geraghty (26, 66, 70), Penalties: Geraghty (40);Rovigo Delta: Penalties: Basson (12, 29)
London Irish: 15. Andrew Fenby (Homer, 69); 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Tom Fowlie; 12. Eamonn Sheridan (Dorrian, 69); 11. James Short (Rep. Cross, 17. 24, Short.); 10. Shane Geraghty; 9. Scott Steele (Allinson, 60);1. Tom Court (Halavatau, 60); 2. Jimmy Stevens; 3. Halani Aulika (Sin Bin, 12, Cross, 60); 4. George Skivington (C) (Sin Bin, 49); 5. Jebb Sinclair (Cox, 59); 6. Ofisa Treviranus; 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Tom Guest (Low, 69)
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew; 17. Leo Halavatau; 18. Geoff Cross; 19. Sean Cox; 20. Kieran Low; 21. Darren Allinson; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Tom Homer
Rovigo Delta: 15. Stefan Basson (Sin Bin, 58); 14. Ross Stewart McCann; 13. Francesco Menon; 12. Joe Van Niekerk (Majstorovic, 60); 11. Billy Patrick Ngawini; 10. Luciano Rodriguez; 9. Giorgio Bronzini (Frati, 63); 1. Guillermo Roan; 2. Luke Brian Mahoney (C); 3. Massimiliano Ravalle (Pozzi, 40); 4. Matteo Davide Maran (Caffini, 55); 5. Jean-Francois Montauriol; 6. Guglielmo Zanini; 7. Edoardo Ruffolo (Lubian, 29); 8. Matteo Ferro (Lubian, 59)
Replacements: 16. Enrico Ceccato; 17. Renzo Balboni; 18. Andrea Pozzi; 19. Emiliano Caffini; 20. Edoardo Lubian; 21. Marco Frati; 22. Denis Majstorovic; 23. Enrico Manghi