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London Irish 39 Northampton Saints 17

06 Oct 2012
London Irish 39 Northampton Saints 17

Jonathan Joseph was the star attraction as London Irish upset the Aviva Premiership form guide to take down the previously unbeaten Northampton Saints 39-17 at the Madejski Stadium.

Joseph scored the first of his side’s four tries and had a hand in two others as the Exiles blitzed the visitors early on and never looked back.

In addition to Joseph’s score David Paice, Topsy Ojo and Jamie Gibson all crossed for the home side who had only won once in their first five games of the season.

Saints by contrast had made a flying start to the new campaign but they were no match for Brian Smith’s troops on Saturday and in truth late tries from Ken Pisi and Phil Dowson gave the scoreline a sense of respectability that they scarcely merited.

The opening exchanges were understandably cagey as Stephen Myler and Steven Shingler traded penalty misses and the first score did not come until the 22nd minute.

Joseph chipped through, winger Marland Yarde gave chase and hacked the ball forward but as the ball went over the try-line Vasily Artemyev, covering at full-back in the absence of the injured Ben Foden and James Wilson, appeared to have it all under control.

But the Russian fluffed his chance to dot the ball down and Joseph pounced to score the first try of the match, Shingler missing with the conversion however.

Irish were stopping the Saints from playing their natural game and continued to press as half-time approached, Ofisa Treviranus coming within inches of adding a second try.

But with the referee playing advantage when the Samoan No.8 was held up over the try line it was left to Shingler to slot over the simplest of penalties and make it 8-0.

The Exiles were clearly in the mood and in the last five minutes before half-time they continued to turn the screw with Joseph the tormentor in chief.

A second try appeared inevitable and when it came it was hooker David Paice who burrowed his way over from short range, Shingler adding the extras to make it 15-0 in the 36th minute.

Everything the Exiles tried was coming off as the half drew to a close, Ian Humphreys rubbing salt in the wound with a long-range drop goal as the Saints looked totally shell-shocked.

Half time could not come soon enough for Jim Mallinder’s men and immediately after the break they looked much improved.

Pisi’s jinking break early in the second half served notice of Northampton’s intention to go down fighting but it was Irish who continued to impress as they defended stoutly on their tryline against wave after wave of Saints attack.

Finally the Exiles were forced to concede a penalty that Myler duly slotted to give the visitors a foothold in the match at 18-3.

But the Exiles kept coming and with their first real attack of the half they had their third try as yet another searing run from Joseph fed Ojo whose charge to the line looked like it might fall short but his momentum carried him over to make it 23-3.

And it was not just in the backs that the Irish were calling the shots as up front they continued to have the nudge on the Saints.

A driving maul moments after Ojo’s try took them deep into Northampton territory and when the penalty was conceded Shingler made no mistake to make it 26-3.

The introduction of Ryan Lamb at fly-half stopped the rot somewhat for the Saints and the former Exile came within inches of giving the visitors their first try in the game.

But it just was not to be for the Saints and on the hour mark the rampant Exiles had their bonus-point try as flanker Jamie Gibson broke clear to score, Shingler converting to make it 33-3.

Late scores from Pisi and Dowson gave the Saints something to go home smiling about but two more penalties from Shingler sealed the deal on a fantastic afternoon for the Exiles faithful.