Eamon Sheridan of London Irish takes on the Saracens defence
8 February 2014, 05:03 pm ::
Saracens 13 London Irish 22
London Irish became the first side to beat Saracens at Allianz Park in a regular season Aviva Premiership game as two tries just before half-time humbled the league leaders.
Tries from Matt Parr, Alex Lewington and George Skivington gave the Exiles a 22-8 lead at half-time - the latter two coming in the final four minutes of the first half.
Saracens crossed in each half through Marcelo Bosch and Schalk Brits but strong defence from the visitors restricted their scoring opportunities, while Charlie Hodgson and James O'Connor also exchanged penalties.
London Irish had won only one of the last six games between the two sides but had only tasted defeat once since the turn of the year.
O'Connor's early penalty put the Exiles ahead but they were reduced to 14 men on nine minutes when Fergus Mulchrone was sent to the sin-bin after the visitors were penalised at the break-down for a fifth time in the opening minutes.
Saracens looked to take advantage of their numerical advantage and five minutes later they made their pressure pay. A quickly taken penalty five metres out was held up on the line but Charlie Hodgson spread the ball to Bosch on the overlap who went over for his first try for Saracens.
With Mulchrone back on the field the visitors grew into the game and they went ahead on 21 minutes through Parr's first Aviva Premiership score, the prop collecting Nic Rouse's offload after clever play by Tomas O'Leary.
Hodgson reduced the gap to two points with a penalty after Blair Cowan had become the second Exile to be sent to the bin, but the visitors shocked the home side with two tries in the closing minutes of the half.
First Hodgson's kick on half-way was charged down and O'Leary collected to pass to winger Lewington, who crossed in the corner.
And then Exiles captain Skivington went over on his 150th Aviva Premiership appearance, running on to his kick ahead after scrappy play in midfield saw the ball run loose.
With the wind now in their favour, Saracens looked to respond early in the second half and Chris Ashton was held up five metres out. Saracens recycled the ball but they were unable to find a way through the visitors' defence.
London Irish continued to threaten, Eamonn Sheridan breaking a couple of tackles to take play into the Saracens half, and strong forward play forcing a couple of turnovers.
Joel Tomkins made his return after three months out with a knee injury on 52 minutes but was unable to spark the Saracens back-line.
Brits crossed with five minutes remaining but it was merely consolation as London Irish recorded their fourth victory of the Aviva Premiership season.
Every match in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season is crucial, to be there to support your team buy your ticket frompremiershiprugby.com/tickets