How did it go down?
Well it wasn’t the best of starts for London Irish as scrumhalf Sam Harrison danced around around a few sluggish looking forwards in the opening minutes to take The Tigers to within a few meters of the line, before Matt Toomua sent winger Nick Malouf over in the corner. The try was not converted but Ford soon slotted three consecutive penalties to put Leicester fourteen points up. Pressure built throughout the rest of the half, but London Irish responded with a lone penalty to ensure that they had some reward and the teams took it in 14-3 at the interval.
It didn’t take long for Leicester to pick things back up in the second half as youngster Will Evans, who was once talked about as a long term option to fill England’s much fetishised openside flanker shirt, cut a great line before running it in, in what was admitted poor defence from The Exiles. The score was 21-3 and things looked ominous for newly-promoted London Irish.
Irish fought back though and managed to respond with a penalty from Bell, before Blair Cowan ran over Malouf to record the first try of the day for the home side. This seemed to boost their confidence as despite conceding another try to the in-form Jonny May they came back strong in the final ten minutes. Stalwart David Paice went over before winger Alex Lewington took an inside ball to score in the final play, gifting Irish a bonus-point defeat and perhaps a generous losing scoreline of 27-28.
How did that prediction go Ed?
It went alright! London Irish ended up pushing Leicester a lot closer than I initially thought, although the scoreline is a little misleading as London Irish never looked in danger of winning the game. I suppose the accuracy of my prediction rests on the meaning of the word ‘comfortable’.
So what did we learn?
Jonny May’s hot streak continues – May looked deadly again in this game and his try in the 61st minute effectively killed any hopes of London Irish sneaking a victory with their comeback. His intervention in the build-up to the score was arguably even more memorable as he weaved across the pitch in the way that only he can, taking the Tigers from their 22 to 22 (almost) in the process. His form is red-hot and he seems to be the nailed-on favorite to play on the Left Wing for England this Autumn.
London Irish able to grab a point – They looked well out of the game after Will Evans went over at the beginning of the second half, however The Exiles managed to muscle their way back in. It adds weight to the theory that, despite losing five games, London Irish have a little bit about them and are a relatively tough challenge for most teams in the league. The bottom two traditionally don’t win many games, so if Irish can continue to collect bonus points then Worcester might find themselves with some ground to make up to avoid the drop.
Alex Lewington continues to look like a deadly finisher – The former Leicester academy man looked dangerous in his chance to perform in a televised game. There are questions over his defence, but Lewington looks to be one of the quickest and most exciting wingers in the Premiership and quite why Leicester let him go remains to be seen. From what he has but on show so far it seems certain that a few Premiership clubs will be interested in his services should Irish eventually go down.