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London Irish heap more misery on Pat Lam's Bristol basement boys

By PA
Pat Lam - PA

Bristol’s miserable season continued with a 23-7 defeat at London Irish after another poor performance which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the Premiership.

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They are now two points adrift of 10th-placed Bath.

Irish had far more industry and attacking ideas to their game and were rewarded with tries from Benhard van Rensburg and Ben White. Rory Jennings converted both and added three penalties.

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A try from Harry Thacker converted by AJ MacGinty was Bristol’s sole response.

Prior to kick-off, Irish suffered a big blow when talisman Paddy Jackson failed a fitness test to withdraw with a calf injury. Jennings stepped up from the bench to replace him at fly-half.

It was Jennings who had the first opportunity for points and he made no mistake with a 30m penalty to give his side an eighth-minute lead.

That penalty was the only score of a dour opening 19 minutes, which saw neither side threaten the try-line with their attacks blunted by the wet conditions.

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With their first attack, Bristol were on the try-scoring sheet when bursts by Ellis Genge and Semi Radradra put the home defence on the back foot and this enabled Thacker to slip away from a maul and race over unopposed.

Irish responded with an excellent try. Scrum-half White quickly took a penalty in the opposition 22 to leave their opponents floundering and when the ball was recycled, skilful handling created the space for Van Rensburg to slide over in the corner.

Jennings converted from the touchline and then had two opportunities to kick penalties from virtually the same position. On both occasions Irish chose attacking line-outs, only to lose both before success came with their third.

They won possession and displayed good ball retention before White made a sharp break. He fed captain Rob Simmons who drove forward with White on hand to pick up and score, with another superb kick from Jennings giving Irish a deserved 17-7 half-time lead.

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Within a minute of the restart Jennings kicked another penalty before Bristol suffered two further setbacks in quick succession when they lost backs Gabriel Ibitoye and Noah Heward to injuries.

The penalty from Jennings was the only score of a featureless third quarter as Bristol seemed bereft of ideas as to how they could get back into contention.

Jennings missed with a penalty which would have made it a two-score game but it mattered little as Bristol never looked like clawing back the deficit with Jennings putting the final nail in their coffin by succeeding with his third penalty five minutes from time.

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