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Match Report: London Irish 25 Northampton Saints 23

26 Dec 2015
Match Report: London Irish 25 Northampton Saints 23

London Irish’s first Aviva Premiership Rugby victory under Tom Coventry could not have arrived in more dramatic fashion after a last-gasp converted penalty try ended a rollercoaster victory over Northampton Saints.

Irish, who had lost all of their previous six games, earned a penalty try from referee Ian Tempest with two minutes to go, and Shane Geraghty's successful conversion secured a 25-23 victory.

Northampton had looked set to claim the spoils after Kahn Fotuali'i put last season's table-toppers ahead for the first time in the match.

But after Jamie Gibson was sin-binned with four minutes to go, they cracked under Irish pressure.

It sparked much merriment at the Madejski as Irish celebrated a shock success that gets them up and running this season.

They had surged into a 15-3 lead, with Luke Narraway and Sean Maitland scoring, but Northampton responded through Ken Pisi and George North before Fotuali'i put them in front.

Irish were to have the final say though, meaning Northampton have now won just three of their opening seven league games.

Saints had missed an early chance to go in front as Stephen Myler uncharacteristically missed a penalty that was earned with a huge shove at the scrum.

Irish were soon winning a penalty of their own at the other end, confidently kicking for touch after a big forward surge.

And from the resulting lineout drive, Irish again had Northampton's number as Narraway bulldozed over for the game's first try.

Chris Noakes missed the conversion, but the home side had the lead they wanted and they also had the belief they needed.

They continued to put the pressure on Northampton, with the away side's defence having to hold firm against another wave of Irish pressure.

Hold firm they did, relieving the pressure with another scrum penalty, and they then mounted an attack, which ended with Myler notching three points.

But Irish responded quickly through a Noakes penalty and after scrum-half Brendan McKibbin missed an ambitious one from halfway, Irish scored their second try.

A flying move ended with North outnumbered out wide and Maitland made Saints pay as he dived over in the corner.

Noakes added the conversion to give Irish a shock 15-3 lead, but Saints pegged them back before the break as Ken Pisi scored.

Myler missed the conversion to leave the deficit at seven points, and Northampton narrowed that early in the second half.

Fotuali'i's fine kick ahead found North, who gathered to score his first try of the season.

Myler missed the conversion from out wide and Noakes soon stretched Irish's lead to five points with an impressive penalty effort at the other end.

Northampton quickly responded through a Myler penalty and they were soon ahead as Tom Collins' burst set up Fotuali'i for a try.

Myler added the extras and Northampton held a five-point lead.

Irish were then forced to play 10 of the final 15 minutes with a man less as Aseli Tikoirotuma was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Ben Foden.

But Northampton couldn't capitalise and after Tikoirotuma returned, former Irish flanker Gibson was sin-binned, giving Irish the edge.

And they made it count as the referee awarded a penalty try to give Geraghty the conversion to win it.

And win it he did, as Irish claimed a stunning win.

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