London Irish 24 Harlequins 29By Matthew Sadler
September 02, 2011
A brace of tries from winger Tospy Ojo were not enough for London Irish as they opened their Aviva Premiership campaign with a 29-24 defeat to Harlequins at Twickenham.
Quins put the first points on the board after only two minutes when Irish’s Max Lahiff was penalised for coming in at the side and Nick Evans slotted over the penalty.
Irish responded well, though, and Tom Homer levelled the score with a penalty of his own after Quins failed to roll away following a good break from Marland Yarde and Matt Garvey.
Homer prevented Mike Brown from touching down in the 15th minute with a fine try-saving tackle, but Quins recycled the ball and James Johnston eventually dived over from close-range. Evans added the extras to make it 8-3.
Homer missed a fairly simple penalty, but did reduce the arrears after 26 minutes when he slotted over following Joe Marler’s sin-binning.
Exiles failed to make their extra man count and would have gone further behind if not for Paul Hodgson’s fine challenge on Ugo Monye, which caused the winger to knock on.
Quins made it 13-6 before the break when Evans slotted over his second penalty after Chris Hala’Ufia failed to roll away.
Irish should scored a try in the first half, but Kieran Roche failed to take in Topsy Ojo’s pass with the Quins defence beaten.
However, It took Exiles just a minute of the second half to cross as Daniel Bowden made a break from halfway and found Ojo, who sprinted clear to score. Homer added the extras to level the score at 13-13.
Quins retook the lead after 50 minutes with another Evans penalty, but Ojo crossed again after a fine team move saw replacement Alex Gray pass inside to the winger. Homer missed the extras.
Another Evans penalty put Quins back in front before Monye scored on the left, despite the best efforts of Homer. Evans again kicked the conversion.
Homer kicked from halfway to get Irish back to within a score, but they were caught offside again minutes later and Evans maintained his 100-per-cent success rate to put Quins 29-21 ahead.
Irish piled on the pressure and got back to within a try when Homer kicked a simple penalty following an offside, but they couldn’t score again as Quins held on.
London Irish: 15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Daniel Bowden (Captain); 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Adrian Jarvis; 9. Paul Hodgson; 1. Max Lahiff; 2. David Paice; 3. Faan Rautenbach; 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Kieran Roche; 7. Richard Thorpe; 8. Chris Hala’ufia
Replacements: 16. James Buckland; 17. Clarke Dermody; 18 Leo Halavatau; 19. James Sandford; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Adam Thompstone; 22. Steve Shingler; 23. Darren Allinson