London Irish re-ignited their GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP play-off hopes with a bonus-point victory over Worcester at the Madejski Stadium.
It was a case of fun in the sun for five-try Exiles, as they notched a first GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP win for more than two months, benefiting from facing visitors who have little to play for – apparently safe from relegation but with no chance of breaking into the top half of the table – and it showed in a disjointed Warriors performance.
Teenage full-back Tom Homer gave Irish an express start with a penalty from straight in front of the posts in the second minute and, from the restart, set off on an exhilarating 50-metre run up the touchline. The Exiles enjoyed themselves in the perfect conditions, passing the ball quickly through the hands and regularly splitting the shaky first line of the Warriors’ defence in a thrilling first 10 minutes.
Hands in a ruck gave Homer another easy penalty opportunity and the first try seemed inevitable with Mike Catt, playing very flat at fly-half, orchestrating a series of flowing attacks and Worcester appearing to be very tentative.
From a well-weighted Catt grubber, Warriors wing Marcel Garvey inexplicably failed to fall on the ball close to the try-line and Seilala Mapusua picked up the pieces to score the easiest try of his career. Homer failed with the conversion but, after just 12 minutes, Irish were in an 11-point lead. Garvey tried to make amends, as Worcester entered the Irish 22 for the only time in the opening quarter, but the ball went to ground from his loose pass.
At last the visitors were gaining a foothold and good continuity led to their first sustained period of possession in the Irish half and a try near the posts on 27 minutes for Kiwi lock Greg Rawlinson. Willie Walker’s conversion made the score 11-7.
The recovery was shortlived as, just after the half hour, Samoan wing Sailosi Tagicakibau’s elusive running took him to within a whisker of the Worcester line, quick recycled ball made its way to Richard Thorpe and the flanker lunged over in the corner. Homer converted but Worcester’s reply was immediate, Walker slotting a penalty from straight in front on the 22.
Irish, 18-10 up at half-time, were soon 11 points to the good again thanks to another well-struck Homer penalty and Worcester, who have won only once at the Madejski, saw their chances of a second success blown apart when they conceded two tries in as many minutes just before the 50 minute mark.
Poor defence at a line-out allowed Exiles scrum-half Paul Hodgson an unimpeded run to the brink of the line before feeding to prop Clarke Dermody to register a first ever try for his club and then Catt handed Tonga number eight Chris Hala’ufia an easy run to the posts for the bonus point score. Homer added the extras and Irish were out of sight at 33-10.
It should have been 40 points shortly afterwards but Mapusua threw a wild forward pass to centre partner Elvis Seveali’i , after a rampaging run, when a try at the posts appeared to be a formality. Walker charged down a Catt kick and won a race to the line with Hodgson to give Worcester a much-needed boost. The damage had been done, though, and lock James Hudson gave the score a final gloss for Irish eight minutes from time.