Tense until the last minute in huge London Irish win over Saracens

London Irish win

BRENTFORD, ENG – The huge London Irish win over the Saracens showed how resilience was needed in a tense local derby match. The Irish historically had trouble beating the Saracens, however, this game was different as the London Irish won in a thriller over the ‘Sarries.

Huge London Irish win over the Saracens

London Irish v Saracens overview

Oh boy, where do we start!? After being away from the Brentford Community Stadium for the last two games, London Irish returned home for a London Derby showdown with Saracens, and to say the game delivered would be a massive understatement!

Coming into the game off the back of a resilient second-half performance which saw them blow away the Bristol Bears, London Irish had every right to believe that they could put in the kind of performance that would see them get a victory over local rivals Saracens for the first time in nine attempts.

First half – London Irish start game well to set tempo early

The game got underway in the most perfect way any Irish fan could have possibly asked for as with just two minutes gone, off a turnover ball, Curtis Rona found Benhard Janse van Rensburg, who dotted down in the corner to give Irish the perfect start and set the tempo for what would be an intense and pulsating contest.

After the two teams then swap penalties, it was the link-up of Rona and Janse van Rensburg who would once again strike to provide the Irish with another moment of quality. A deliberate knock-on from Billy Vunipola provided Paddy Jackson with the opportunity to knock it deep into Sarries territory and just as it was for the first touchdown of the afternoon, Rona found Janse van Rensburg with a delicious ball, putting him into the opposite corner to his first. Β 12-3 to Irish and control of the game was fully in the hands of the men in green.

George Nott who came into the starting XV at the last minute after Rob Simmons suffered a knock to the leg in the warm-up and failed a late fitness test was then taken off for an HIA assessment, something of which he passed but wasn’t to return later for the second 40.

The Irish almost and did statically have it all their own way in the first half, it was Tom Woolstencroft with his 7th try of the season – off the back of a lovely rolling maul – who provided Sarries with their first touchdown of the afternoon and bring them into the contest. This meant that the Saracens only trailed by two points at the end of the first half.

Second half – Momentum for both teams

The second 40 started as well as the first for the Irish as a charge down from Adam Coleman off a Ruben de Haas box kick provided Irish with their third try of the afternoon and all of a sudden it felt as if it was to be a memorable day at the Brentford Community Stadium for the men in green. Paddy Jackson added the extras and all of a sudden Irish’s lead was up to nine.

With the lead up to nine and the control well in the hands of themselves, The Irish discipline started to get the better of them. So much so, Sean O’Brien found himself taking 10 off the pitch after the penalty count became too much and referee Hamish Smales had seen enough.

Saracens back in the game after Yellow Card

Down to 14 men, the real test finally had started for Irish and with Alex Lozowski converting the penalty, the lead for the Exiles was shortened as were the numbers. Paddy Jackson knocked over a penalty shortly after but the game was blown back open shortly after. Fed by an overload opening pass from Ben Earl, it was Rotimi Segun, who crossed over the line in the corner and suddenly Sarries were well back in the game. With momentum swinging in both directions and no telling which direction it would settle, that said, it was another moment of magic that got Irish their fourth try of the afternoon and secured the bonus point in the bag.

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Ollie Hoskins and Will Goodrick-Clarke forced the Sarries defense into chaos and for the third time of the afternoon, it was Rona who provided the final ball for a hat trick of assist as he sent over Ollie Hassell-Collins. Jackson once again and with the wind behind him, this time added the extras from the touchline.

Alex Lozowski sent over a penalty to bring it back to within six with just eight minutes left on the clock but the big decisive moment and test of character came when Adam Coleman stopped short a dangerous-looking attack from former Exile player Alex Lewington with what referee Hamish Smales adjudged to be a dangerous tackle.

Thankfully both men got back to their feet after a long time but only one would return to action as Coleman was sent off and the Irish with five minutes remaining were reduced to 14 for the second time in the game.

Final thrilling moments of game as London Irish win ends in ‘crazy fashion’

The match concluded in what would be the craziest five minutes of the Premiership Rugby season – let alone either Irish’s or Sarries long history.

With pressure fully on the Irish, the Sarries launched a rolling maul that would end in a devastating fashion for the men in green. Welsh International Nick Tompkins took full advantage, touching down in the corner and with mere minutes remaining, for the first time all afternoon, Sarries were ahead and in control of the game.

Brad Davis said this week that one thing that this Irish team is full of is resilience and fight and to say that was an understatement for what was about to happen is unbelievable! With time running out rapidly, Ollie Hoskins gathered in the ball, Irish built upon phase after phase and that resilience and fight were rewarded.

With the clock edging ever so closer to 80, the Irish won themselves a penalty, straight in front of the posts and fate was then fully in the hands of Jackson. Could he deliver? Oh, you bet he could!

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As time expired, Jackson knocked over the penalty and for the first time in nine attempts in the Gallagher Premiership, the Irish had finally done it, they had got the better of Saracens. The win means the team has now equalled the same amount of wins as they managed as a whole last season and they now also find themselves sitting 5th in the Gallagher Premiership table just TWO points behind Gloucester!

Again, Brad Davis said this week that the team has always given themselves a chance in games thanks to resilience and fight. My lord that couldn’t ring much truer! It was tense, it was nervy at times but the Irish found a way and it was incredible!

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The London Irish’s next game will be on the road against the Sale Sharks at 2:45 GMT on February 25 while the Saracens will host the Leicester Tigers at 10:00 A.M. GMT on the same day. The Saracens game will take place at StoneX Stadium while the Irish travel to Greater Manchester at AJ Bell Stadium.

 

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