London Irish built on their Heineken Cup quarter-final heroics by recording a tight 13-8 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in the Guinness Premiership on Sunday.
London Irish built on their Heineken Cup quarter-final heroics by recording a tight 13-8 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in the Guinness Premiership on Sunday, with Declan Danaher scoring the game's two tries.
The locals duly slumped to their sixth successive league defeat and lost Jonny Wilkinson with a worrying neck injury as London Irish claimed the spoils.
The England superstar was left prone after a heavy tackle in midfield and while he was able to resume after treatment, eventually left the field with 12 minutes to play.
Newcastle gave the ball away in the first minute and did not see it again for much of the first half as the Exiles launched attack after attack.
However, the visitors had little to show for all their possession apart from a Peter Hewat penalty in the sixth minute and Danaher's 25th-minute try.
Topsy Ojo almost snatched a solo try when he hacked through, only Tom Dillon's desperate dive to fingertip the ball away preventing the winger from scoring.
Mathew Tait's surging run out of defence sparked Newcastle's best spell of the half and Wilkinson missed a 50-yard penalty attempt after Seilala Mapusua dived over the ball when Andy Perry was brought down on halfway.
Newcastle were stretched however when Hewat broke through and the ball was moved left for Bob Casey to feed Danaher for a try in the corner in the 25th minute.
Hewat missed a good penalty chance just before the interval but Irish went further in front after 43 minutes.
Newcastle failed to secure the ball from the restart and Shane Geraghty made the Falcons pay with a long pass that found Richard Thorpe and he put Danaher in at the corner for his second try.
The Falcons brought on Carl Hayman and Matt Thompson to try and bring some much needed power into their pack and Newcastle finally got on the board with a 48th-minute Wilkinson penalty.
That was Wilkinson's last effective contribution before he was forced off through the neck injury but Newcastle did manage a score in the dying seconds when May took a quick penalty and John Rudd surged away.
Rudd passed inside for Tim Visser to score but it was too little, too late.
For Newcastle Falcons:
For London Irish:
Tries: Danaher 2
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Tom Dillon, 12 Steve Jones, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Andy Buist, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 David Wilson, 2 Andy Long, 1 Micky Ward.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Russell Winter, 20 Ed Williamson, 21 Micky Young, 22 Tim Visser.
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Eoghan Hickey 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Phil Murphy, 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 James Hudson, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 Danie Coetzee, 1 Tonga Lea'aetoa.
Replacements: 16 Dan Murphy 17 David Paice 18 Nick Kennedy, 19 Juan Leguizamon, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Tomas De Vedia.
Referee: David Rose
Touch judges: Paul Emerson, Brian Robertson
Assessor: Brian Leigh
Television match official: Trevor Parlett