A late bonus-point try from Delon Armitage kept London Irish top of Pool Six thanks to a 34-13 win over struggling Brive on Saturday.
A late bonus-point try from Delon Armitage kept London Irish top of Pool Six on points difference as they fought off Brive 34-13 at the Madejski Stadium.
The Exiles were dominant throughout and would have been kicking themselves had they failed to take maximum spoils for the second week running against Brive, who had four players sin-binned and remain without a point in the competition.
London Irish raced into a 20-6 half-time lead with tries from Tom Homer, the England U20 winger who scored twice last weekend, and Seilala Mapasua.
Elvis Seveali'i showed neat footwork to score a third but it was not until the final play of the game that Armitage, who had come on as a 66h-minute replacement, sealed the bonus point.
Armitage was included on the bench after three months out of action with a shoulder injury, which had ruled him out of England's autumn international series.
Irish made one change to the starting XV that won in Brive after England scrum-half Paul Hodgson failed a fitness test on an injured thumb.
Boss Toby Booth had accused Brive of “thuggery” in the closing stages of the Exiles' 36-3 victory last week, which resulted in two forwards receiving lengthy bans.
On this occasion, all of Brive's yellow cards were for technical offences and the game lacked any of the spite that had marred that previous meeting.
The Exiles took the lead inside ten minutes after a neat pass from Richard Thorpe released Homer, who beat the last man with a vicious right-foot step to score next to the posts.
Brive profited from two penalties in quick succession, both struck cleanly by the Italian fly-half Luciano Orquera.
Chris Malone extended the Exiles' lead to 13-6 before Mapasua scored their second try, finishing off a dominant spell that had begun with David Paice's powerful midfield tackle.
The England Saxons hooker drove Brive back ten yards to win a penalty, which Malone arrowed into the corner.
Brive lock Damien Brown was sin-binned as London Irish increased the pressure before Mapasua picked a simple line through a ragged defensive line to score.
Brive wasted their best field position of the half when Orquera missed a simple drop-goal attempt when he had options to run the ball outside him.
For London Irish:
Tries: Homer, Mapusua, Seveali'i, Armitage
Con: Malone, Lamb
Pen: Orquera 2
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Tom Homer, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 John Rudd, 10 Chris Malone, 9 Alfredo Lalanne, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Bob Casey (captain), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion 2 David Paice, 1 Clarke Dermody.
Replacements: 16 Danie Coetzee, 17 Dan Murphy, 18Faan Rautenbach, 19 Kieran Roche, 20 George Stowers, 21 Delon Armitage, 22 Jamie Lennard, 23 Ryan Lamb
Brive: 15 Nicolas Jeanjean, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Lachlan Mackay, 11 Guillaume Namy, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 8 Fabien Domingo, 7 Simon Azoulai, 6 Vincent Forgues, 5 Damien Browne, 4 Retief Uys, 3 Scott Zimmermann, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Davit Kinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Thibault Dubarry, 19 Antoine Claassen, 20 Shaun Perry, 21 Horacio Agulla, 22 Scott Spedding, 23 Pat Barnard.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Phil Fear (Wales), Huw Griffiths (Wales)
Assessor: Gianni Romano (Italy)