London Irish into play-off places after stylish win over Northampton
London Irish launched themselves into a play-off spot with a flair-filled showing as they overcame fellow post-season hopefuls Northampton 37-22 at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Scores from So’otala Fa’aso’o and Tom Pearson alongside the boot of Paddy Jackson gave the hosts a seven-point lead at the interval, with Saints responding through a Fin Smith penalty and a Juarno Augustus try.
The Exiles kept their foot on the gas after half-time, with Ben Loader and Chunya Munga’s tries securing the bonus point, while Jackson also added a long-range drop goal to the highlight reel.
While Saints played their part with scores from Tommy Freeman and captain Lewis Ludlam, the visitors were overwhelmed by a perfectly executed game plan from Irish.
The Exiles, donning St Patrick’s Day celebration kits brimming with three-leaf clovers, were first on the scoreboard as Fa’aso’o drove over from short range after a collection of gut-busting carries from their big men.
Saints grabbed some points of their own via Smith’s boot, slotting the ball over for three points after an Irish infringement at the 10-metre line.
The hosts scored their second with an extraordinary effort from Pearson, who fended, ducked and weaved past five defenders on his way to the try-line as the lively stadium erupted.
Augustus bulldozed over Jackson to get the visitors across the whitewash for the first time in the game, but Freeman’s cynical deliberate knock-on shortly afterwards earned the England international a spell in the sin bin, placing the game back into the hands of Declan Kidney’s men.
Jackson added three points to the total just prior to the half-time whistle, extending the hosts’ lead to seven points.
Irish were quick out the blocks after the interval as Fa’aso’o dislodged the ball from Fraser Dingwall’s grip, allowing it to be regathered and passed into the hands of Loader who outpaced defenders to the try-line.
Freeman made amends for his error with a brilliant score, catching Irish’s breakdown guards napping as he picked and went into open grass before spying the perfect angle to hare his way past last man Loader for the try.
But Saints were not in control for long as Munga spotted a gap and successfully lunged for the line from centimetres away.
Jackson treated the Irish faithful to a perfectly executed drop goal metres inside the Saints half soon after.
The visitors responded moments later as Ludlam found a gap in the defensive line to score but Jackson rounded off victory with one final penalty.
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Scooter contributes fine but as lock. Can he secure his own ball out wide like Frizell does? There are too many technical aspects that you cannot shoehorn him onto the side of the scrum. The question for him can he be a first pick lock?Go to comments
What would be nice would be for the NZRFU to actually spend some time on the U20s programme. It has clearly been an afterthought for the last decade.Go to comments