Full-time: London Irish 30 London Wasps 19By Alan Manicom
February 24, 2013
Shane Geraghty and Marland Yarde grabbed London Irish's tries as they took a massive step towards Aviva Premiership safety.
And Tom Homer kicked 20 points to ensure a win that lifts Exiles above London Welsh into 10th place, but more importantly five points clear of bottom-of-the-table Sale Sharks.
The impressive Geraghty slid over for the first try after Ian Humphreys had surprised play-off chasing Wasps by taking a quick tap penalty and sending a looping pass to his team-mate.
But despite dominating possession and territory, Irish went in 16-14 down at half-time due to indiscipline.
Wasps' fly-half Stephen Jones punished them by kicking three penalties before converting a sublime try by Christian Wade.
Despite having next to no space to work with, the elusive Wade ghosted past Yarde on the right touchline and stepped past Tom Homer to score Wasps' only try of the game
Irish looked intent on chucking the game away when No. 8 Chris Hala'ufia was sinbinned in the opening minute of the second half for fending off an attempted tackle by landing a high forearm on T Rhys Thomas's throat .
But Exiles prevented Wasps from capitalising on their man advantage, Homer cancelling out Jones' fourth and final penalty of the match.
And Irish took a stranglehold on the game when Hala'ufia returned to the action.
Director of rugby Brian Smith said: "Chris Hala'ufia really felt he owed the team.
"He took a yellow card and when he came back out he had a point to prove.
"He was the game breaker, creating the line break for Marland Yarde's try."
Hala'ufia punched a hole through the Wasps defence before finding Ofisa Treviranus with a superb offload.
Treviranus sprinted for 10 metres before passing back to Yarde, who cut back inside towards the posts to score a very well worked try.
Homer's conversion and a couple more penalties clinched Irish's victory.
Smith added: "We are delighted to get the win and get a bit of momentum.
"Our supporters really got behind the side in the second half. It was a good performance."
Yarde and Wade both enhanced their claims as future England wingers with fine tries.
But Smith believes that Yarde not only got the better of his opposite number, but is also better than the current England incumbent Chris Ashton.
He said: "There is no doubt that Christian Wade is a try scorer. He is a predator.
"But Marland got a points decision.
"To my mind he would not have been out of place playing (for England) yesterday. He is that high quality.
"Marland is a great finisher, he catches the ball well, he is a solid defender, he is prepared to put his head over the ball and I think he is the complete package.
"I can see him breaking into the England squad this summer and go on to have a 50-plus cap career.
"He is that good."
"I think he is a better player than Chris Ashton.
"Two years ago Chris Ashton redefined the way wingers play in terms of coming off his wing and support play.
"But Chris Ashton can't do what Marland can do.
"He does not want to get his hands dirty and do what Marland does, put his head over the ball, clean out, jump for the ball and work defensively.
"I will give you an honest answer what I think. But I coach Marland and I see a lot more of him than what I see of Chris Ashton these days.
"When I compare the performance from Chris yesterday and what Marland did today I think Marland is a genuine international class player.
"I am his coach and I am going to fight his corner."
Smith, though, conceded that Yarde might have done better to stop Wade scoring Wasps' only try.
Exiles' boss said: "Marland is kicking himself. He is a bit disappointed he let Christian slip down that right touchline in the first half.
"But by and large I thought we were very resilient."
Smith was also full of praise for London Irish's scrum-halfs Pat Phibbs and Jack Moates as well as Humphreys and Geraghty.
He added: "I thought our two 9s did well and that Ian was outstanding. Shane chimed in really nicely as well.
"They controlled the game. On a firm track like ours, to have two distributors like them is a pretty good recipe."
With home games still to come against fellow strugglers Bath, London Welsh and Worcester Warriors, Irish are now looking up the table rather then down.
Smith revealed: "We said before beating Saracens (two weeks ago) that we needed to win all of our five remaining home games.
"We have now won two with three left to play.
"Whatever we can scrounge away we will."
"We have been giant-killers at home this season. Next year we have to find out what is holding us back on the road because that is what has let us down this year."
Irish were unrecognisable side to the side that lost 40-16 at Bath eight days earlier after being dominated up front.
Smith added: "Our pack had a point to prove. We were blown off the park last weekend.
"With a penalty count of 22-5, two free-kicks, three yellow cards and a penalty try (against), we felt our pack were not allowed to get into the contest last weekend and I am still seething about it.
"We were able to get into the contest today. We won it up front. Wasps are a good side and we know we did well to win."