The London Irish pack made sure it was a St Patrick’s Party to remember for the Exiles as they ran out 26-6 winners against Worcester Warriors with a powerful display.
The home side scored three classic, close-range forward’s tries to settle the game, with Tom Homer adding a trio of penalties and a conversion to cap what proved a comfortable victory.
Worcester struggled to threaten the Irish try line and it took until well into the second half for the Warriors to cause any panic in the home defence at the Madjeski Stadium.
London Irish took an early lead on eight minutes from a classic catch and drive from the lineout, with lock Matt Garvey the man driven across the line by the Exiles pack. Tom Homer’s conversion from out by the left touchline drifted across the face of the posts, however, and it stayed 5-0.
Worcester didn’t learn their lesson, and from a second lineout deep in Warriors territory the Exiles again got their driving maul working and wheeled Tongan tighthead Halani Aulika around and over the line as the Worcester defence melted away.
Homer again failed to add to his 69 points this season with his second shot at the posts and Worcester trailed by ten points after a quarter of the game.
Experienced fly-half Andy Goode kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to 10-3 four minutes later, making it 190 points for the campaign and 1,807 in the top flight.
But Worcester were penalised for holding on after a good, tight box kick from Irish scrum-half Pat Phibbs and Homer notched his first successful kick of the afternoon.
Homer was given another chance soon after when Matt Kvesic was pinged for sealing off the ball under pressure from back row Ofisa Treviranus and Homer made no mistake to make it 16-3 five minutes before the break.
Goode kept Worcester in the hunt with a second penalty late on to send the Warriors in at the interval 16-6 behind.
The second period started much the same as the first, with a rolling maul deep into the Worcester 22 only stopped on the line by desperate Warriors defending. Aulika was adjudged by referee Wayne Barnes not to have grounded the ball, denying him a second score of the day.
But it made no difference, as from the resulting five-metre scrum Irish walked forward with No.8 Chris Hala’ufia controlling the ball at the base of the scrum before plunging over the whitewash. Homer’s first successful conversion made it 23-6 and put the result seemingly beyond doubt on 43 minutes.
Any hopes Worcester had of forcing their way back into the game seemed to evaporate when Homer notched his third penalty five minutes later given the Warriors a mountain to climb.
The visitors spent large parts of the second half camped in the Irish half but the Exiles defence held firm, with man of the match Matt Garvey often to the fore.
Worcester rang the changes on the hour with Scotland international Ewan Murray coming on to bolster a reinforced front row, but to little avail.
Jon Clarke was held up on the try line with a classic choke tackle by Treviranus, while successive hacked kicks from Josh Drauninui and winger David Lemi looked to have the Exiles in trouble until the intervention of fly-half Ian Humphreys who tidied up at the back.
Despite kicking a number of penalties to the corner in search of a try, Worcester were unable to break down an increasingly confident London Irish side that looked dangerous on the break late on but couldn’t add to their points tally.