Props Geoff Cross and Tom Court secured London Irish their first Aviva Premiership Rugby home win of the season over basement club London Welsh at the Madejski.
Alex Lewington also touched down and, with Tom Homer adding nine points with the boot, Irish sealed their 175th Premiership victory, ending a run of six successive defeats.
A first-half scuffle saw both Tom May and Daniel Leo receive red cards but this did not affect the home side who completed their eighth Aviva Premiership Rugby win this calendar year.
Welsh, whose points all came from Will Robinson’s boot, end 2014 with one solitary point and without a win, equalling Rotherham’s 2003 end-of-year tally – the worst ever total at this stage under the current points system.
Robinson and Homer swapped penalties in a cagey opening quarter, both sides looking for an elusive win.
Despite a dogged, abrasive and even start Irish lit up the Madejski with a superb try soon after the half hour mark.
Shane Geraghty chipped over the Welsh defence and an awkward bounce sent the ball the way of Fergus Mulchrone, he expertly held off his defender and flicked a sublime offload out the back to Lewington who powered in to score from inside the 22.
Homer added the conversion to the 23-year-old winger’s first Aviva Premiership Rugby try since his hat-trick over Saracens in September.
The game then took an ugly turn as, in one incident five minutes before half-time, both Welsh captain May and Irish substitute flanker Leo saw red, the latter six minutes after coming on for Kieran Low.
May was given his marching orders for an elbow to Leo’s head after a maul, and the Irish player’s reactionary blows made sure he would also play no further part.
With two minutes before the break Robinson took Welsh within a score nailing his second penalty of the afternoon.
And with the first-half clock dead Irish thought they had their second try – Topsy Ojo gathered a Geraghty chip and went over – but it was ruled out.
Irish increased their lead after half-time with prop Cross smashing over from close range following a multi-phase move; Homer added the conversion.
Robinson then hit a penalty from in front of the posts to reduce the arrears to eight as the bottom-side looked to claw themselves back.
Irish however were in search of the bonus point and used their rolling maul well in inclement weather, Court touching down for the Exiles’ third score from the back of the drive – Homer added the two extras.
Time ran out and they could not find a fourth to seal the extra point but nevertheless widened the gap between them and Welsh who firmly remain in last place.