Ian Humphreys was the star of the show, holding his nerve to slot a late penalty as London Irish ended a disastrous sequence of results on the road by winning at Worcester Warriors.
Brian Smith’s men won just once on the road all last season in the Aviva Premiership but at the first time of asking this season, the Exiles won a titanic encounter 20-18 at Sixways.
Despite 13 points from the boot of Ignacio Mieres, Worcester effectively shot themselves in the foot as ill-discipline late in the game handed London Irish the unlikeliest of wins.
London Irish, who have won just one of their last five Aviva Premiership matches, got off to the worst possible start as Mieres scored a fourth minute penalty.
In a game littered with first-half penalties, referee Tim Wigglesworth was perhaps a little too prominent as the game struggled to get going, the official’s whistle dominating the first 40 minutes.
Humphreys dragged London Irish level on 13 minutes with a penalty but the Exiles, who stumbled to a 42-20 loss on the opening day of the season against Saracens at Twickenham, struggled to get their flair backs – most notably Marland Yarde and Topsy Ojo – going forward.
Three minutes later Worcester got a foothold in the game as flying winger David Lemi touched down, with Mieres adding the extras – the score put the Warriors 10-3 ahead and firmly in control.
Inside the first 20 minutes both sides gave away five penalties a piece but it was Worcester ill-discipline on 22 minutes that gave Humphreys a second shot at goal – this time the Irishman missed his shot.
In a game delayed by ten minutes due to Worcester ground staff struggling to clear fireworks from the Sixways pitch – it was referee Wigglesworth who was again back to the fore as Chris Hala’ufia was yellow carded for the Exiles.
Worcester failed to take advantage of their numerical advantage, not adding a single score to their tally in the absence of the Irish flanker but the return of Hala’ufia prompted an Exiles fightback.
England hopeful Yarde scored a try-out of nothing as the half drew to a close – Humphreys added the extras – as the game finished 10-10 at the break.
Yarde, who scored seven tries for the Exiles last season and two for England on his debut against Argentina in the summer, started where he had finished off in the first half as he touched down for his second score of the afternoon after just six minutes.
The flyer winger raced in from 30 yards, evading the attentions of Worcester last-man Chris Pennell to score and hand Humphreys an easy opportunity to add another two points for the visitors.
Worcester got more and more desperate as the second half wore on; needlessly trying to keep the ball alive at times in the wrong areas of the pitch.
On 59 minutes Mieres dragged Worcester back to within four minutes with a penalty, while eight minutes later he missed with another shot at goal.
Out of nothing Worcester got their noses in front as after a sustained spell of pressure Mieres scuttled over the line for a score but unfortunately he couldn’t add the extras.
His try and missed kick at goal was Mieres’ last action of the half as he was replaced ten minutes from time by Danny Gray.
Four minutes from time London Irish found themselves back in front as Humphreys held his nerve to slot over a penalty – Worcester again showing their ill-discipline at the breakdown.
Worcester thought they may score a late try but London Irish held firm despite late pressure from the Warriors.