REPORT: London Irish 49-12 Doncaster Knights – Loader try lights up the party

Ben Loader seals the win e
Ben Loader's brilliant try helped Irish to victory

Ben Loader scored the pick of the tries as London Irish stormed to victory in their annual St Patrick’s Party match to give the perfect response to their shock defeat at Yorkshire last time out.

A bumper crowd of over 10,000 turned out to watch the Exiles run in seven tries with Tom Stephenson grabbing a brace while Dave Porecki, Albert Tuisue, Barney Maddison and Ian Keatley also crossed the whitewash.

The 49-12 win keeps London Irish eight points clear of second-placed Ealing Trailfinders, who also clinched a bonus point victory, with just four games now left to play in the Championship title race.

Tom Stephenson scored two tries

Injury forces Mike Coman to retire

The match took some time to catch light with the initial stages turning into a kicking battle.

Loader came closest to an early score but was stopped just short as Doncaster defended stoutly to quieten down the crowd with a scoreless opening 20 minutes.

And not long after Ollie Stedman had come close to giving the visitors a shock lead, two quick tries put the table-topping Exiles in control.

The first came through centre Stephenson, who faked a pass and spotted a gap to burst through and score.

A second soon followed with Tuisue crashing over and the accurate Keatley converted on both occasions.

Charlie Beech reduced the arrears for the visitors after Irish left a hole in their defence, but the lead was 21-7 by half-time thanks to the stand-out moment of the contest.

Loader collected a high ball on the halfway line and cruised through the midfield before sidestepping the last man and using his electric pace to score after a run that brother and Reading striker Danny would have been proud of.

Barney Maddison rounded off the scoring

The bonus point was secured less than five minutes after the restart. Exiles exerted early pressure, pinning the Knights back and eventually getting their reward, powering over through Porecki on his 50th appearance for the club.

A fifth try looked to be in the offing after a quick break from Loader saw Ben Meehan sent through, but the attack was eventually stopped when Keatley comically ran into his own man.

But the home crowd did not have to wait long for the next score as the hosts continued to dominate the second period with Stephenson grabbing his second try of the day with a neat slip beyond the Doncaster defence.

Keatley had been impressive with the boot but he also added his name to the score-sheet before being withdrawn, selling a defender with a dummy before rushing through.

Stedman pulled one back for the visitors after an overlap in the corner but it was Irish’s day as replacement Maddison stretched over to round off the scoring.

LONDON IRISH: Veitokani, Loader, Stephenson (Macken 67), Hepetema, McLean, Keatley (Atkins 68), Meehan (Steele 61), Reid, Porecki (Fainga’a 58), Hoskins (Chawatama 64), van der Merwe, McNally (c) (Maddison 67), Tuisue, Ioane (Schatz 61), Rogerson.
Tries: Stephenson x2 (20,59), Tuisue (25), Loader (36), Porecki (45), Keatley (65), Maddison (77)
Cons: Keatley x6 (21,25,37,46,60,66), Atkins (78)

DONCASTER: Jarvis, Wilson (Cowell 39-40, Eames 56)), Clark, Hayes, Lewis, Morath, Polataivao, Hislop (List 63), Hunter (Malcolm 56), Beech (Sproston 48), Civetta (Cowell 56), Hicks, Stedman, Hills (c), Tyrell.
Tries: Beech (32), Stedman (70)
Cons: Morath (33)

Referee: Dean Richards
Attendance: 10,106

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