Irish win basement battle

Date published: January 10 2016

London Irish clung on to secure a valuable 20-15 victory over Newcastle Falcons at the Madejski Stadium to move off the bottom of the Premiership.

Alex Lewington and Topsy Ojo's tries propelled Irish into a 20-0 lead before Newcastle fought back, showing real character.

No tries were scored during a tight first half played in sunny conditions at the Madejski Stadium. 

Newcastle enjoyed the lion's share of possession during the opening minutes of the match, but it was the Exiles who took an early lead through Chris Noakes' penalty.

Noakes missed a second shot at goal on 19 minutes as Irish found their stride with the ball in hand, but he was on target shortly after to double the lead.

Craig Willis was wide with a penalty attempt that would have got Newcastle off the mark, and it remained that way until half-time, with the hosts ending the first period on top.

Irish made a rapid start to the second half to extend their lead, scoring two tries within five minutes of the restart.

Alex Lewington sprinted over from the kick-off for substitute Shane Geraghty to convert, before Geraghty's kick was snapped up by Topsy Ojo for the hosts' second try.

The conversion made it 20-0 and left Newcastle with a mountain to climb in the final 30 minutes. Nili Latu eventually got the Falcons off the mark with a try, but the conversion was missed.

The gap was down to 12 points on the hour thanks to Andy Goode's penalty, which came after Irish's David Paice was sin-binned for a high tackle.

And the visitors set up a nervy finish when Marcus Watson collected a chip kick to score a great try, which Goode converted to make it 20-15.

Geraghty then missed a penalty for the hosts with eight minutes remaining but the hosts were able to hold on for victory.

The scorers:

For Irish:
Tries: Lewington, Ojo
Cons: Geraghty 2
Pens: Noakes 2
Yellow Card: Paice

For Newcastle:
Tries: Latu, Watson
Con: Goode
Pen: Willis

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Luke Narraway, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court 
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Joe Trayfoot, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Belisario Agulla

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner, Roy Maybank
TMO: Graham Hughes