Planet Rugby

Exiles stun the champions

06th September 2008 16:22

Share:

Delon Armitage London Irish Wasps

Green Day: Steffon Armitage takes on the champions at Twickenham

The reigning Guinness Premiership champions made the worse possible start to the defence of their crown, with London Irish kicking off the new season with a fine 26-14 victory over London Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday.

The champs' frailties at the line-out were exposed to the full, with Chris Hala'ufia and Richard Thorpe crossing for the Exiles after capitalising on errors at the set-piece.

Ian McGeechan's side are traditionally slow starters - last season they left their revival later than ever - and they were off the pace and shapeless in attack.

Irish were left reeling after finishing seventh last term, a position which meant they missed out on qualification for the Heineken Cup, but their rout at Twickenham was an impressive declaration of intent.

They were a far more threatening side, showing a creative spark in attack matched by a tigerish work ethic in the loose which left Wasps living off scraps.

Australian full-back Peter Hewat finished the afternoon with 16 points, successfully completing every kick at goal, and his haul ultimately proved the deciding factor.

Tries in the final quarter from Tom Rees and Eoin Reddan gave the score respectability but Hewat's boot meant the outcome was never in doubt.

The Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) have been the main talking point in the build-up to the season and one of the new rules was in evidence as Wasps paid the price for dropping numbers at the line-out.

They used two less players in the sixth-minute set-piece and looked on in horror as Richard Birkett's attempted catch deflected into the hands of Hala'ufia who burrowed over from close range.

But the Tongan number eight was quickly transformed from hero to villain when he was caught tripping Reddan at a free-kick and was dispatched to the sin bin.

Hewat slotted a penalty to add to his earlier conversion, nudging Irish 10-0 ahead, after showing a neat side-step to open Wasps' defence.

Conditions were slippery with a fresh downpour making play even trickier as England number eight James Haskell dropped a quick tap free-kick to emphasise the point.

Player coach Mike Catt, starting at fly-half in place of the injured Shane Geraghty, showed smart reactions to set up a chance for Topsy Ojo but the England winger ran out of space.

Irish maintained the pressure and were rewarded with another Hewat penalty but soon breathed a sigh of relief when Riki Flutey dropped the ball just short of the line after dancing through two tackles.

Poor hands were also responsible as a daring Exiles breakout from their own 22 ended inches short of Wasps' whitewash with Sailosi Tagicakibau guilty of taking the wrong option.

The champions' problems at the line-out proved costly once again in the 54th minute when Thorpe came up with the ball before swatting aside a poor tackle from Tom Voyce to cross.

Rees got Wasps off the mark as the match entered the final quarter, showing initiative to scamper through a static defence.

But two rapid penalties from Hewat put the result beyond doubt, despite a late Reddan try which saw the Ireland scrum-half capitalise on a slip by Catt.

The scorers:

For London Irish:

Tries: Hala'ufia, Thorpe

Cons: Hewat 4

Pens: Hewat 2

For London Wasps:

Tries: Rees, Reddan

Cons: Van Gisbergen, Staunton

Yellow card: Chris Hala'ufia (London Irish) - tripping opponent, 16

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Mike Catt (c), 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Gary Johnson, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 Danie Coetzee, 1 Alex Corbisiero.

Replacements: 16 Dan Murphy, 17 David Paice, 18 James Buckland, 19 Jon Fisher, 20 Adam Thompstone, 21 Peter Richards, 22 Eoghan Hickey.

London Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Josh Lewsey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Riki Flutey, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 James Haskell, 7 Tom Rees, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Richard Birkett, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Raphael Ibanez (c),1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Phil Vickery, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 John Hart, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Jeremy Staunton, 22 Lachlan Mitchell.

Referee: Andrew Small

Touch judges: David Kurk, Andy Watson

Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

Television match official: Clive Leeke

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs EdinburghGlasgow vs Edinburgh Preview
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs HarlequinsNorthampton vs Harlequins Preview
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs WaratahsBlues vs Waratahs Preview
Brumbies vs ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Preview
Sharks vs HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Preview
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058