London Irish continued their winless run in this season’s LV= Cup as returning Newcastle Falcons wing Alesana Tuilagi inspired Dean Richards’ to a morale-boosting win.
Despite having won their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures, London Irish have experienced a miserable run in this season’s LV= Cup, losing to Scarlets, Leicester and Wasps prior to kick-off.
What made the result all the more surprising was Newcastle showed a total of 13 changes to the team that ran out 39-19 winners over Sale Sharks at Kingston Park last weekend, with Eric Fry and Scott MacLeod the only two to survive.
And London Irish’s disappointing run continued against Premiership strugglers Newcastle at the Madejski Stadium, despite an electric start from the home team.
They won a penalty for offside after just two minutes and Myles Dorrian lined up the kick to give the hosts a three point lead.
Dorrian doubled Irish’s lead on 13 minutes after a kick up field by Eamonn Sheridan was knocked on by Sinoti Sinoti and led to Newcastle indiscipline.
The Irish score sparked resurgence for Richards’ Newcastle, who had been in good attacking form recently, gaining try bonus points in each of their past five matches.
Newcastle scored two tries in quick succession before the break, with Will Welch touching down from a maul for the first and Tuilagi scoring the second.
Tuilagi’s try followed a great break from full-back Simon Hammersley, who passed the ball off to the Samoan to run through one-on-one. Tom Catterick converted both to make it 14-6 in favour of the visitors.
Newcastle, who were buoyed this week by the news scrum-half Micky Young will rejoin the club next season after four years away playing with Leicester Tigers and Bath, had a chance to extend their lead just before half-time but Catterick missed the penalty by some distance.
Irish started the second half on the attack as they looked to avoid their fourth successive defeat in the LV= Cup and Newcastle offered them a chance to reduce the deficit when they were caught offside shortly after the restart but Dorrian kicked just wide of the post.
And Irish were the creators of their own downfall soon after as they overthrew a line-out and allowed Ally Hogg to touch down – Catterick missed the conversion, leaving the score at 19-6.
And Hogg was at it again shortly after, scoring his second after Juan Pablo Socino broke through the defence and laid the ball off to the No. 8.
Hogg’s try earned Newcastle their sixth consecutive try bonus and Catterick made no mistake this time, converting to make it 26-6 to the visitors.
Darren Allinson was brought on for his 100th London cap for London Irish.
And the introduction of the scrum-half seemed to galvanise Irish as Fergus Mulchrone touched down in the corner and Dorrian scored the conversion.
But it was too little too late for Irish who were unable to mount any attacks in the closing minutes.
And the game was sealed late on for Newcastle as Jamie Helleur touched down for his side’s fifth score with two minutes left on the clock as the Falcons ran riot.
Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.