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Malone makes it an unlucky day for Irish

15 Sep 2007
Malone makes it an unlucky day for Irish

Chris Malone guided Harlequins to an overwhelming victory against London Irish on the opening day of Guinness Premiership season.

The Australian fly-half, making his debut for Quins after a summer move from Bath, controlled the game with his tactical kicking and added three penalties and three conversions at Twickenham.


He also created decisive second-half tries for wing Tom Williams and centre Hal Luscombe after lock Ollie Kohn and centre Jordan Turner-Hall touched down in the first half.

Irish responded with a close-range try from hooker David Paice, a late effort from flanker Steffon Armitage and an injury time strike from Richard Thorpe with another debutant, ex-Wasps and Quins fly-half Jeremy Staunton, converting three times and adding two penalties.

Neither side quite managed to lift the gloom hanging over English rugby following the national team’s lame defeat against South Africa in Paris.

Both were guilty of costly errors with Mike Brown and Delon Armitage making some schoolboy ones by ignoring try-scoring chances.

But there were some encouraging performances from potential stars of the future, with England Under-20 centre Turner-Hall a powerful and pacy midfield presence

Malone brought a formidable kicking game with him from the West

Country and he pinned Irish back in the early stages before opening the scoring with a 30 metre penalty after being hit late by Paice.

They blew a gilt-edged chance four minutes later though, when the pack rumbled towards the line and full-back Brown lost the ball going on his own with a man unmarked outside him.

Quins were a man better off from the 15th minute when Paice was yellow-carded following an off-the-ball incident and they were five points better off at the next lineout when Kohn was driven over for the opening try.

Staunton pulled three points back with his first penalty but some soft defending allowed Quins to claim an important score on the half hour when Turner-Hall showed why he is so highly rated by breaking a tackle and powering to the line with Malone converting for a 15-3 lead.

Staunton cut the gap with a second penalty and Irish were working their way back into the game only for Armitage to hang onto the ball when Topsy Ojo was in the clear on his right.

Armitage atoned for his error when hauling down Ugo Monye after an 80 metre Quins counter-attack seconds before the break.

But Malone created a third try four minutes after the restart by floating a cross-kick into the right-hand corner for wing Tom Williams to catch and score, then drilled over his conversion from the touchline to open up a decisive 22-6 lead.

Irish struck from a close-range lineout by driving hooker Paice over with Staunton converting, only for Malone to strike again with a second penalty before chipping over the top for Wales centre Hal Luscombe to regather and score under the posts and make the conversion a formality.

The Exiles did have chances to cut the gap in the final 15 minutes but Ojo ran out of steam and fumbled the ball under pressure 10 metres from the line and Armitage was furious after referee Ashley Rowden ruled that he had been held up inches short.

His brother Steffon – a back-row replacement – finally did get over the line six minutes from time with Staunton converting.

Malone, fittingly, killed off any thoughts of a comeback with his third penalty three minutes from time to make sure Thorpe’s injury-time effort had little meaning.

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