Exiles edge past lowly Bedford
April 22, 2000
London Irish narrowly beat Division Two bound Bedford in a scrappy but entertaining match at The Stoop.
Replacement Nick Harvey sealed the win, which could have gone either way, with an injury-time try to leave the basement side beaten by 10 points.
Bedford, the Premiership lightweights who have only won once this season plugged away at the home side but the Exiles had just enough to hang on for victory.
The Irish opened the scoring with three penalties from the Premiership's top points scorer, Jarrod Cunningham, within the first 17 minutes.
They were running the show until Bedford winger Paul Sackey outpaced the Irish defence to score. Blues captain Andy Gomarsall duly converted.
Almost immediately the Exiles laid siege to the Bedford line and their pressure paid dividends as Justin Bishop romped home to score under the posts.
A frantic finish to the half saw both sides attacking from deep and Conor O'Shea floored twice.
He was first in the wars after tangling with lock Chad Eagle and later with Gomersall.
Dubious decisions from referee Steve Leyshon nearly gave Bedford the lead at the end of the first half but they had to make do with a Gomarsall penalty, leaving the score 16-10 at the break.
Bedford came out all guns blazing and put Irish on the rack. A combined pack effort pushed the Irish ace, who struggled throughout the match, over the line for Chris Pearson to score.
Bedford's lead did not last long as O'Shea and Ben Whetstone combined to restore the Exiles' lead.
Irish piled on the pressure and got their just desserts with an injury time try from Harvey.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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