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Double red card mars London Irish victory over Bath

By PA

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Two tries from Ben Loader helped London Irish maintain their excellent home record with a pulsating 36-33 win over Bath.

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After a tight first half which ended with Bath trailing by just four points, their discipline unravelled after the break as they finished the contest with 13 men following red cards for Tom Dunn and Charlie Ewels.

Will Muir’s early try put Bath in front, the Loader and Matt Rogerson registered before the interval.

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Anthony Watson marked his return from Six Nations duty with a try moments after the resumption but as their numerical advantage grew, Irish took control.

An inspired Tom Parton added a third, before Loader and Curtis Rona went over to give Irish a healthy lead.

They very nearly relinquished it after late scores from Josh McNally and Jack Walker gave Bath the consolation of two bonus points and had the game lasted five more minutes, the outcome may have been different.

A flowing first half saw both sides enjoy plenty of ball in hand, the two scrum-halves – Ben Spencer and Nick Phipps – moving the ball quickly from the breakdown.

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A confident Bath outfit, coming off the back of three away wins on the bounce, struck first through a Muir effort, aided by Max Clark.

The centre hit a lovely line at pace before offloading smartly to Muir for an easy finish.

An exchange of penalties between Paddy Jackson and Spencer kept Bath in front, but Irish finished the half strongly, aided by Ewels’ yellow card.

Loader skipped past three tacklers on his way to dotting down underneath the sticks to draw Declan Kidney’s men level, before a moment of individual brilliance from Parton set Irish up for a second.

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Collecting a high ball in his own half, he proceeded to glide through the middle of the pitch without a hand being laid on him, leading to Jackson teeing up Rogerson.

Turning around 17-13 down, Bath started the second half with intensity, Watson pouching an easy finish from Spencer’s short pass but from there, discipline became an issue.

Dunn saw red for a smash into the face of Agustin Creevy, before Ewels followed after collecting a second yellow, Muir having also gone to the bin in between as Bath were reduced to 12 for a spell.

Loader and Rona exploited the gaps to secure a bonus point for Irish as they opened up a 36-23 lead with just 15 minutes to play.

Those two tries sandwiched a sublime team score, finished by Parton, which will be right up there in the try of the season discussion.

But the men from the Rec rallied late to keep their own play-off hopes alive.

McNally was pulled over by his team-mates from a dominant rolling maul, with Walker adding one right at the death as Irish lost Jack Cooke and Ben Donnell to yellow cards in a contest that finished 13 against 13.

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Double red card mars London Irish victory over Bath

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