London Irish will spend next season in the Championship after finishing on the losing side in a 32-25 win for Harlequins on Sunday.
Despite coming back from 19-3 down to lead briefly towards the end of the match, Irish succumbed to defeat, ensuring the Exiles were relegated.
The hosts knew before kick-off that anything less than a win would not be enough to maintain their place in the top flight, and they gave a good account of themselves, ultimately falling short in the final moments of the match.
For Quins, they gave themselves a fighting chance of gaining a European Cup place, with their bonus point moving them one point above Sale Sharks heading into the final day of the season.
The visitors made an excellent start, with Charlie Walker going over twice in the opening quarter of the game.
He first went over in the corner with Ben Botica converting before getting on the end of a Ross Chisholm grubber kick either side of Theo Brophy Clews’ penalty for the home side.
The lead was extended to 16 points once Chisholm finished off after a smart break from Marland Yarde with just 22 minutes on the clock.
Irish got back in the game on the half hour mark, Luke Narraway going over after good work in the pack, and were just a try away from taking the lead once former Harlequin Aseli Tikoirotuma dotted down.
Botica’’s penalty on the stroke of half-time put more daylight between the sides.
After a nervy start to the second half, Irish levelled the score as David Paice’’s converted try made it 22-22, before Brophy Clews gave the Exiles the lead for the first time with his second penalty of the afternoon. Nick Evans levelled the scoreline with a penalty of his own moments later.
With 10 minutes left, Irish’’s fate was sealed as Kyle Sinckler left the entire back row behind him with a marvellous run before crossing the whitewash to earn Quins the bonus point, and relegate the hosts in the process.
Tries: Narraway, Tikoirotuma, Paice
Cons: Brophy Clews 2
Pens: Brophy Clews 2
Tries: Walker 2, Chisholm, Sinckler
Cons: Botica 2, Evans
Pens: Botica, Evans
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 5 Matt Symons, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Smallbone
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Johnny Harris, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Ciaran Hearn
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Nick Evans, 23 Ross Chisholm
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Keith Lewis
— BT Sport Rugby (@btsportrugby) 1 May 2016