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London Irish boost play-off hopes with victory over second-placed Sale

Press Association

London Irish gave their play-off aspirations a boost as they overcame second-placed Sale 36-18 in a compelling battle at the Gtech Community Stadium.


Tries from Hugh O’Sullivan, Agustin Creevy, Lucio Cinti, Tarek Haffar and James Stokes secured the bonus-point victory.

Jean-Luc du Preez and Sam Dugdale’s scores had kept the game within reach for the Sharks until the closing minutes, before two late home tries sealed matters.

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The hosts took an early lead when Paddy Jackson slotted three points after a Sale breakdown infringement. Irish then added the opening try as Rory Jennings found space in the left wide channel and coolly passed inside to O’Sullivan for an easy run-in.

The visitors soon got themselves on the scoreboard, as Rob du Preez converted a simple penalty after being handed the kicking tee ahead of George Ford, who is knocking on Steve Borthwick’s door following a spell in his England camp earlier this week.

The opportunistic Creevy majestically hacked a loose ball for a 50:22, before Irish’s driving maul steamed over to allow the former Argentina captain to finish off the chance he created with a score.

The hooker’s countryman Cinti was next over the whitewash, as a Jackson cross-field kick reached the winger, who suavely cut inside Tom O’Flaherty for the five-pointer.


But Irish’s party was brought to a halt as Facundo Gigena received a 10-minute bin sentence after making shoulder contact with Joe Carpenter’s head in a tackle.

The loosehead prop was indebted to Tom Pearson, whose low tackle from behind forced the Sale full-back to drop to a knee as the hit registered, saving Gigena from

receiving his marching orders from referee Matthew Carley.

Sharks capitalised on their man advantage as Jonny Hill slammed the ball firmly into Jean-Luc du Preez’s breadbasket, and he streaked clear of the maul before driving over before the interval.


Following an outstanding kick to touch from Ford, Sale referred to their bread-and-butter once again, utilising the destructiveness of their pack to maul over as Dugdale touched down.

The 5ft 9in Jennings epitomised the spirit of rugby with a sacrificial try-saver that forced 6ft 5in Cobus Wiese into touch with a hit that saw the bigger man replaced moments later.

A Ford penalty moments later reduced the gap to four points, but the marauding Pearson soon broke free of a tackle, before Josh Caulfield passed outward to allow prop Haffar to show some wheels as he outpaced Carpenter to the line.

Another Jackson cross-field kick retrieved by Cinti was this time passed inside to Stokes, allowing the Exiles faithful to get the party started.


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