TOP BAR - Fixtures

Topsy Ojo putting the team first over tries at London Irish

Topsy Ojo rid himself of an unwanted streak at the weekend but London Irish’s veteran back insisted a lack of tries has not preyed on his mind after playing a winning role.

The Exiles moved off the foot of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table on Sunday at the expense of Newcastle Falcons in much part thanks to a Shane Geraghty-inspired burst at the start of the second half.

Geraghty, on for the injured Chris Noakes at fly-half, lofted two kicks in the space of five minutes – one straight from the restart – that resulted in tries for Alex Lewington and Ojo.

It was a watershed moment for Ojo, who had not scored a try since March 2014, and it proved a crucial score.

Despite holding a 20-0 lead, Irish were made to hold onto the bitter end after Newcastle scored 15 unanswered points.   

It could all very easily have blown up in the Exiles’ faces and Ojo admitted his side had to dig deep at the death.

“I didn’t actually know it had been that long since I’d scored – I hadn’t thought about it myself!” he said. “The game was all about the winning performance, but personally I’m very pleased that I managed to get the try.

“I haven’t seen anything like the way we started the second half before and to play a role in that was great – we needed that little spell in the end. Newcastle came back at us and we had to defend for our lives.

“Shane’s a quality player, he’s got lots of experience at the top level and he gave us two moments of magic right at the start. It was a great boost for us and though we’re still waiting for news on Chris, if Shane is pulling the strings for the team then the team is in very good hands.

“We were pretty calm (after Newcastle's second try), from our point of view it was a disappointing try to concede.

“We were down to 14 men at that point as well so understandably we were under a bit of pressure. When we got back to up 15 we were OK, and credit to Newcastle for coming back into it, but it was pleasing how we stuck to our guns.”

It was nevertheless a performance that underlined the improvements being made at the Madejski Stadium, following on from their similarly nail-biting victory over Northampton Saints on Boxing Day.

But Ojo concedes his side are still in the thick of a learning process as they head into Europe for a meeting with Grenoble and a fortnight that will decide their Challenge Cup fate.

“I can’t imagine how much we would have kicked ourselves if we’d have lost the game,” added Ojo.

“Going forward, if you race into a 20-0 lead, you’ve got to kick on from there the way this league is. As we get closer to the finishing line it’ll become more important, so we’ll look to grow and learn from it as a team.

“Winning is a habit and something we have to be able to do consistently, and two out of three in the league, as competitive as it is, is a good start.

“We’ve got Sale away when we come back to the Premiership, who are very tough especially at home, so hopefully we can come into it after two good weeks building in Europe.

“We are in the mix for the quarter-finals in Europe and it’s a big goal for the club. Our home form has been good but everyone seems to be beating each other in our group. It’s a huge game against Grenoble, so we can win that one we’re in a very good position.”

 

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