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London Irish celebrate return to capital by taming Tigers in Brentford

By PA
Paddy Jackson of London Irish celebrates victory with Ollie Hoskins (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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London Irish centre Curtis Rona scored the only try of a 22-9 Gallagher Premiership victory over Leicester and it proved just enough to give his side a happy homecoming.

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After 20 years based at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Irish returned to their heartland in the south west of London and a committed performance at the new Brentford Community Stadium enabled them to win a dour game.

Paddy Jackson converted Rona’s try and added five penalties for a match tally of 17 points while disappointing Leicester could only manage three penalties, two from Argentinian Joaquin Diaz Bonilla and one from Zack Henry.

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Irish suffered a pre-match blow when veteran flanker Sean O’Brien was forced to withdraw with a calf injury and was replaced by Jack Cooke.

They soon received another setback when Henry kicked Tigers into an eighth-minute lead but this was soon nullified by one from Jackson.

Jackson then missed a penalty from longer range before Leicester wing Kobus Van Wyk was booked for deliberately knocking the ball into touch when under pressure from Ollie Hassell-Collins.

The hosts took advantage of their numerical superiority with Jackson kicking a second penalty to give his side a 6-3 lead at the end of an uneventful first quarter.

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Van Wyk returned in time to see Irish score their first try when centre Billy Meakes made the running to provide his partner Rona with an easy run-in. Jackson converted before missing a penalty but his side still held a deserved 13-3 interval lead.

Irish lost scrum-half Ben Meehan at half-time with a leg injury and he was replaced by Nick Phipps, with Leicester withdrawing outside-half Henry.

After 46 minutes, Tigers finally came up with their first period of pressure. South African number eight Jasper Wiese, easily their best player, led the onslaught with a number of powerful bursts and they gained their reward when replacement Diaz Bonilla kicked two penalties in quick succession.

Buoyed by these scores, the visitors’ pack became increasingly dominant; they won a number of scrum penalties but their backs made continual careless errors and lacked the accuracy to break down a stubborn Irish defence.

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With 14 minutes remaining and against the run of play, Jackson kicked a crucial 45-metre penalty to give his side some breathing space before the outside-half succeeded with two more to deprive Leicester of a bonus point.

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