London Irish 21-17 London Wasps, Aviva Premiership
Exiles claim spoils in London derby
November 26, 2011
Exiles claim spoils in London derby
Tom Homer kicked London Irish to a 21-17 victory against Wasps in an attritional Aviva Premiership game at the Madjeski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A solitary try from wing Christian Wade in the last minute to get a losing bonus point was the only time either side's line was breached as home fullback Homer kicked seven penalties against four from Wasps fly-half Nicky Robinson.
Irish were missing four players, all of whom have been suspended for dangerous or high tackles, including England fullback Delon Armitage and centre Shontayne Hape. But that was no excuse for the soulless, lame encounter in which both sides had decent defences but neither had the ability to unlock the door and find a way of scoring a try until Wade, helped by team-mate Tom Varndell, managed it late on.
Wings Topsy Ojo and Adam Thompstone, for Irish, and Varndell and Wade were like spectators as the ball rarely found its way into their hands. By half-time, Irish were in front by three penalties to two and it was as turgid a game as the score suggested.
Most of the period was spent with one side and then the other shifting the ball through the pack phases, looking for a mistake in the defence which never came. There was little in the lineout phases, the scrums needed to be re-set every time they were called and there was not a great deal of imagination from either side. But it was Wasps who were the main culprits in the error department.
Wasps went ahead on the quarter-hour when former Wales international Robinson booted over a 40-metre penalty. That only came after Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson had come the closest of all to scoring a try in the first half as he drove to within five metres of the Wasps line only for the play to be called back.
Exiles flanker Declan Danaher is held up by the Wasps defence during a tightly contested London derby © Getty Images
Shortly after, Homer made Wasps pay as he kicked goals from 42 and then 20 metres when replacement Ed O'Donoghue seemed to say something untoward to referee Sean Davey. Between those kicks, Robinson got Wasps' second penalty before Homer hit his third to end a decidedly poor period.
Eventually, the match found a slight spark although the festival of the boot continued past the interval as Robinson kicked his third shot only for Homer to reply with his fourth. The Irish set-piece found itself under pressure a couple of times, as the Wasps front row, led by former England loose-head Tim Payne, turned up the power meter.
However, as the hour mark arrived, the Exiles began to take a modicum of control. Adrian Jarvis, who stepped in after an injury twinge to regular fly-half Dan Bowden before kick-off, kept the visitors pegged back.
And young centre Jonathan Spratt, who was making his home debut, caused a ripple of noise from the 7,987 crowd as he charged down an attempted clearance kick from Wasps centre Dominic Waldouck.
But, as the match neared an end that many of the neutrals would have been waiting for, Irish pulled away as Wasps continued to give away kickable penalties that Homer accepted with delight. He landed three 30-metre goals against Robinson's fourth penalty to put Irish 21-12 ahead as the game drew to a close.
However, home coach Toby Booth was left rueing the last 30 seconds when Irish let Wasps in for the only touchdown of the match - giving the visitors a losing bonus point. England wing Varndell drove to the left corner and was stopped short. However, he made up the numbers in the midfield and, after a couple of aggressive drives by the pack, the right wing was on hand to feed left wing Wade for a corner, unconverted try to at least take something from a frustrating afternoon.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel