Captain Shane Geraghty led from the front as London Irish produced a stunning performance to beat the Scarlets at the Madejski Stadium in their final LV= Cup pool clash.
The Exiles scored four first-half tries through Andrew Fenby, Geraghty, Jamie Hagan and Sailosi Tagicakibau while Myles Dorrian added a late fifth.
The visitors offered little in attack, despite Jonathan Davies’ return from injury, and their only points came from a Josh Lewis penalty and George Earle’s converted try.
London Irish had failed to beat the Scarlets in the previous six meetings between the two sides, although they had been close-run affairs with the biggest winning margin just nine points.
Davies was returning from a pectoral injury suffered in the autumn internationals after Warren Gatland released him from Wales’ Six Nations camp so the centre could prove his fitness ahead of Wales’ visit to Ireland next Saturday.
But it was the hosts who were the better side in the first half and they were ahead inside four minutes.
A Scarlets line-out was stolen inside the visitors’ 22 and after a series of pick-and-drives were held up by the visitors’ defence the ball was spread wide to Fenby who went over in the corner to score against his former club.
The Scarlets responded through Lewis’ penalty on seven minutes but the hosts continued to be the more threatening going forward.
The visitors struggled to cope with the power of the hosts’ forwards and they were instrumental in Geraghty extending London Irish’s lead on 26 minutes.
The ball was turned over just inside the Scarlets’ 22 and Fergus Mulchrone off-loaded to Geraghty who held off two tackles to go over.
The momentum was firmly with the home side and they scored twice more to secure a bonus point before the break.
First Geraghty spotted a gap in the Scarlets midfield to take play well into the visitors’ half. The ball was recycled and eventually spread to Jamie Hagan, on as a substitute for injured debutant CJ Van der Linde, who crossed the line.
Tagicakibau then collected Tomas O’Leary’s cross-field kick to score his second try in as many weeks and give London Irish a 22-3 lead at half-time.
The Scarlets improved slightly after the break but they were forced to play the final 23 minutes with 14 men when substitute Jacobie Adriaanse went off injured and there were no replacements remaining.
Eamonn Sheridan was sin-binned for the hosts for tackling Aaron Williams without the ball and with both sides playing with 14, Earle crossed for the Scarlets after patient play.
But Dorrian wrapped up the scoring with five minutes remaining to complete London Irish's first victory in this season’s LV= Cup.
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