Planet Rugby

Tigers edge spirited London Irish

23rd February 2014 14:55

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Leicester picked up a much-needed 20-15 win at London Irish on Sunday, which propels them above Harlequins into fourth position in the standings.

Irish opened the scoring after a minute with a James O'Connor penalty but lost the lead when Ben Youngs dived over the line before two more O'Connor penalties either side of a Logovi'i Mulipola try gave the hosts a 10-9 lead at the break.

Shortly before Eamonn Sheridan returned to the field after being sin binned at the end of the first half, Niki Goneva scored in unlikely circumstances before Owen Williams scored a penalty to leave the visitors 11 points clear, but two penalties from O'Connor and Ian Humphreys set up a grandstand finish.

Jebb Sinclair looked to have dramatically snatched the win in the last minute, but his try was chalked off, giving Leicester the win.

Leicester got off to a sloppy start, conceding a penalty straight after the kick off, which O'Connor converted from under the posts to give the home side an early lead.

After several scrums on the Irish line, Youngs pounced over the line in the corner, with Williams unsuccessful with the conversion.

Irish were awarded a kick at goal soon after though, when Louis Deacon made a tackle in mid-air from the line out, but O'Connor's kick drifted inches wide leaving them two behind.

O'Connor was presented with an opportunity to atone for his earlier miss with a penalty from similar distance, the full-back improving to give the hosts a 6-5 lead.

After resilient defending held Irish off, the Tigers conceded a penalty in front of the posts, with O'Connor kicking his third penalty of the game.

Leicester took the lead in contentious circumstances as Mulipola drove over the line in the corner, with the TMO granting the forward the benefit of the doubt as to whether or not the ball was grounded, with replays proving inconclusive.

Though Irish still held a 10-9 lead going into the break, their job for the second half was made harder as Sheridan was sent to the sin bin for taking out Mat Tait in the air.

After dominating possession in the sin bin period, Leicester got a third try on the board as Goneva expertly evaded Irish's defence after failing to take the pass initially, before going over in the corner. Williams then kicked his first conversion of the game to give Leicester a 17-9 lead.

Leicester continued to dominate possession and territory and were awarded a penalty at the scrum, which Williams converted to extend the visitors' advantage.

Irish were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which O'Connor duly converted to reduce the deficit to eight points with just under 20 minutes left on the clock.

The hosts were then handed a big lifeline as Thomas Waldrom was sin binned with little over 10 minutes to go, but O'Connor's penalty from out wide was off target.

Just a couple of minutes later though Irish did find a way back into the match as Humphreys, taking over from O'Connor, kicked the three-pointer to leave them five adrift.

After advancing the full length of the field in little over a minute, Irish looked to have won the game in dramatic fashion as Sinclair collected the ball and touched down, but the TMO correctly ruled the try out for a knock on in the build up, leaving the Tigers with the four points.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Pen: O'Connor 4, Humphreys
Yellow: Sheridan (36 mins)

For Leicester:
Tries: Youngs, Mulipola, Goneva
Con: Williams
Pen: Williams
Yellow: Waldrom (67 mins)

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Gerard Ellis, 21 Topsy Ojo, 22 Marland Yarde, 23 Sean Kennedy.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Louis Deacon, 4 Ed Slater (c), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 David Mele, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Toby Flood.

Referee: JP Doyle (Eng)
Assistant referees: Roger Baileff, Paul Dix (both Eng)
TMO: David Sainsbury (Eng)

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