Premiership: Michael Dykes stars on league debut as London Irish beat Harlequins
Wing Michael Dykes scored a hat-trick on his Premiership debut as London Irish boosted their play-off hopes with an excellent 42-24 triumph over 14-man Harlequins on Sunday.
The Exiles raced out of the blocks and went 14-0 in front through Chandler Cunningham-South and Dykes tries before the visitors were awarded a penalty try.
However, when Quins had Stephan Lewis sent off for a dangerous clearout and James Stokes went over for the hosts soon after, it was pretty much game over.
Tommaso Allan did cross the whitewash for Tabai Matson’s men, but Dykes completed his hat-trick either side of the break and Tom Pearson also scored to seal a fine win for Irish.
Harlequins claimed a try bonus-point thanks to Josh Bassett and Dino Lamb tries, but it was another disappointing day for the 2021 Premiership champions.
Click here for teams and scorers
Irish began strongly to take a fourth-minute lead. Twice they declined kicks at goal in favour of attacking line-outs and were rewarded when Cunningham-South crashed over from the second.
Three minutes later the hosts scored again when Stokes made the initial burst before feeding Pearson, whose pass provided Dykes with an easy run-in.
Paddy Jackson converted both for his side to have a 14-0 lead at the end of one-sided first 15 minutes but Quins finally got a foothold in the match.
A strong run from Nick David secured the visitors a platform in the Irish 22 before they were awarded a penalty try when Dykes deliberately knocked on to prevent a score from David.
The Irish wing was yellow-carded but immediately they received a boost when Stokes capitalised on a favourable bounce to run 30 metres to score.
After Jackson had converted, TMO replays showed a dangerous challenge from Lewies and the Quins’ flanker was sent off.
The home side then suffered two blows in quick succession. Australia international lock Adam Coleman departed with a serious arm injury before David tore their defence to shreds to create a try for Allan.
Dykes returned from the sin-bin before Irish received a further setback when prop Will Goodrick-Clarke departed with a leg injury.
However, they overcame this to score their bonus-point try from Dykes with another successful kick from Jackson giving Irish a 28-12 interval lead.
Hat-trick hero 🏉🏉🏉
Michael Dykes grabs his third of the afternoon to put @londonirish further ahead 🙌
Catch the second half live on @btsportrugby 📺#GallagherPrem | #LIRvHAR pic.twitter.com/kx8fJUNthh
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 29, 2023
Four minutes after the restart, Dykes supported a break from Ben White to complete his hat-trick before Irish introduced Henry Arundell for his first appearance since October.
Spirited Quins remained in the fight when first a clean break from Andre Esterhuizen created a try for Bassett before Lamb forced his way over to earn a bonus point.
Irish’s nerves were jangling but Joe Marler was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul to put an end to any hopes of a remarkable Quins comeback, with a late try from Pearson sealing victory.
READ MORE: Northampton Saints pull off famous win at East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers