London Irish Wild Geese claim their first National 2 South win over league leaders Clifton despite conceding a last minute try

Despite going in to the match with 4 losses from 4 games London Irish were well up for the challenge that table toppers Clifton presented them.

Both teams in the opening exchanges showed a desire to run the ball. London Irish looked particularly threatening with ball in hand but failed to capitalise on any opportunities.

Clifton soon lost a man to the bin for persistent infringements but Irish could not capitalise on the one man advantage.

li6It was then the visitors who got the first points of the match as a penalty opportunity was duly slotted giving the men from the West Country a 3-0 lead.

But London Irish winger George Owen soon levelled the scores at 3-3 with a penalty shot of his own.

The Irish forwards were dominating the set-piece and 1st phase play and it soon brought about opening try of the game for the hosts. A loose kick from Clifton scrum-half Matt Britton was seized upon by Irish winger Steve Catterall who provided the scoring pass for hooker Scott Tolmie to cross the whitewash. The try was unconverted but the home side led 8-3 after 30 minutes.

li5George Owen soon had another penalty attempt at goal but his kick drifted past the uprights. That being the last action of the 1st half.

HALF TIME: London Irish Wild Geese 8-3 Clifton

The home side continued the pressure on the visitors after the break as a quick tap penalty taken by scrum-half Tom Eastham brought hooker Scott Tolmie on a clever angle before he delayed the pass beautifully for the on-charging second row Charlie Davey to score. Owen converted to give the hosts a 15-3 lead.

However Irish were soon reduced to 14 men as prop Jerry Cronin was given 10 minutes in the sin bin for illegally halting a Clifton driving maul.

li4But the forward dominance from London Irish showed as they turned the ball over at lineout time and after further pressure resulted in another penalty opportunity for George Owen. He duly obliged and extended the lead to 18-3.

But Clifton would not go down without a fight and threw everything they had at London Irish but some stubborn defence kept them at bay. But eventually the Irish defence cracked and a quick tap penalty resulted in a try for the visitors. The conversion was missed. London Irish led 18-8.

London Irish was then reduced to 14 men for the second time as replacement McKinney

was sent to the bin. Clifton capitalised on the one man advantage and scored a try off the base of a good scrum. Try was converted by the outside half and reduced the gap to 3 points at 18-15.

But Irish hit straight back as George Owen converted a penalty to increase the lead to 21-15.

li3However the visitors would not give in and from a 5 metre scrum replacement prop Tom McDonough barged his way over. The result came down to the last kick of the match. The Clifton outside half could not convert the try and it meant London Irish claimed their 1st victory of the season.

It was a hard and physical battle. Both sides gave it their all but in the end Irish’s forward dominance proved too much for Clifton who ultimately left it too late to clinch the result.

FULL TIME: London Irish Wild Geese 21-20 Clifton