London Irish thrash Exiles
April 20, 2013
London Irish beat Welsh in the Aviva Premiership%]
Prop Halani Aulika's try-scoring antics continued as his double helped London Irish to a comprehensive 47-28 victory over London Welsh at the Madejski Stadium.
The giant Tongan tighthead now has 11 tries in all competitions and four in his last four Aviva Premiership games. His two scores, in addition to tries from Guy Armitage (two), Sailosi Tagicakibau, Chris Hala'ufia and Matt Garvey saw Irish run riot.
For Welsh, who are already guaranteed to finish bottom of the table, it was a case of what might have been as the boot of Gordon Ross and tries from the impressive Seb Stegmann and Nick Scott kept them close for a while.
Former Scotland fly-half Ross was off target with a couple of early penalties but was unerring thereafter from the kicking tee, opening the scoring with his third attempt in the sixth minute. Irish's first try came from Armitage just moments later, however, the centre breaking a couple of tackles to dive over after being fed by Tom Homer. Ian Humphreys added the conversion.
Stegmann, who was playing at outside centre rather than on the wing, had already made two clean breaks in the opening exchanges but both times Lyn Jones' side failed to make the most of the initial advance. Irish clearly had not learned their lesson, though, because moments later the former Quins man was over for Welsh's first try, diving over to make it 8-7 to the visitors. Ross failed with his conversion attempt.
It was a breathless first half, full of running rugby, and Humphreys burst clear as Irish continued to carry the more potent attacking threat. Tagicakibau also carried with real menace. Quite how Brian Smith's side had not added a second try was a credit to some last-gasp scramble defence from Welsh as well as a lack of killer instinct from the hosts.
And it was Welsh who were first to score their second try - somewhat against the run of play - on the half-hour mark. Stegmann was again involved with a fine initial break that saw Scott dive over in the corner, Ross' conversion taking it to 15-7. But Irish were soon back in contention and it was that man Aulika, the prop diving over from close range with Humphreys' conversion making it 14-15 to the visitors shortly before the interval.
And Irish were back in front before the break. Marland Yarde was tackled centimetres short of the tryline and Hala'ufai found space to barrel over for the hosts' third try of the first half to make it 19-15. Straight after the interval Aulika bagged his second, picking up and driving over from close range as Hala'ufia forced his team-mate over the line.
Humphreys' conversion went over off the post to put Irish 26-15 to the good, but Welsh were not going to roll over and Ross' two penalties in quick succession meant that with the hour mark approaching Welsh only trailed by five points. Still it was Irish who carried the greater attacking threat, though, and only a George Skivington knock-on prevented their fifth try of the game.
With Aulika desperately searching for his hat-trick it was Tagicakibau who scored the decisive try on 61 minutes. He went over in the corner, with Humphreys' conversion stretching the lead to 33-21. The departing Garvey then celebrated his last game in Irish colours with the sixth try before Armitage powered over for his second, with Greg Bateman adding a late consolation score for the visitors.
Guy Armitage celebrates scoring against London Welsh © Getty Images
London Irish head coach Brian Smith paid tribute to Aulika after the powerhouse prop continued his try-scoring run. "I'm delighted for him," Smith said. "I think the whole team wanted him to stay on to get a hat-trick. For a tighthead to get a hat-trick, you wouldn't have seen that every day. Once you get into the opposition 22 he is a real strike-force. He knows his way to the try-line.I think he is clearly the best short-range try scorer in the league, and there's a lot of him."
Meanwhile counterpart Lyn Jones called on his side to show some more commitment in their final Premiership clash of the season despite their lowly league position.
"Some things that have been good for us this year have been our attitude and line speed, but that disappeared out there," he said. "We allowed them to bring their wingers into the game. I thought they were very good and influenced the game. We didn't control that at all. You need to be motivated and that's the key going into the last game. That can't come from me it has to come from that group."
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