The Wokingham Paper

REPORT: London Irish 52-22 Coventry – Exiles ease to sixth straight league win

Ollie Hassell Collins marks his debut with a try
Ollie Hassell-Collins scored twice for Irish

London Irish took another step towards the Championship title with a resounding eight-try 52-22 victory over Coventry at Madejski Stadium.

Tries from Ian Keatley, Brendan McKibbin and Dave Porecki gave the Exiles a 19-3 half-time lead before eye-catching scores after the restart from Ollie Hassell-Collins and Albert Tuisue killed the contest.

The visitors rallied to score through Tom Jubb and Scott Tolmie, but Hassell-Collins, Brendan Macken and Topsy Ojo all added to the tally to clinch a big home win.

Brendan McKibbin scored in the first half

Victory for Irish, their sixth in a row in the league, keeps them at least nine points clear in title race with seven games to play.

Irish’s preparations were halted in the build-up with Terrence Hepetema pulling out of the side through illness, meaning a reshuffle with Macken taking his spot while Harry Elrington was added to the bench.

But that did not seem to have a negative impact as the hosts stormed into the lead with less than two minutes on the clock.

Debutant Keatley did the honours, immediately making his mark by spotting a gap and bursting through to score following his arrival from Munster, before also converting himself.

However, the game died down after a lively start with Coventry staying in touch to reduce the arrears to 7-3 courtesy of a Dan Lewis penalty.

There was an even bigger blow to Irish moments later when Keatley was forced off after appearing to be knocked out in a challenge with David Halaifonua, who clattered into his head but the referee did not deem the high arm to be dangerous enough to receive punishment.

That appeared to spark the Exiles into life, grabbing two quick tries before the half was out, both off driving lineouts with McKibbin sniping over before Porecki scored at the back of a maul to lead 19-3 at the break.

And the advantage was extended seven minutes after the restart when replacement fly-half Jacob Atkins’ kick picked out fellow academy graduate Hassell-Collins to run over in the corner.

Dave Porecki got his name on the scoresheet again

The Exiles turned on the style minutes later with the try of the match with some brilliant handling before McKibbin offloading to Tuisue to charge across the line for the fifth score of the afternoon.

Coventry were handed a lifeline midway through the half when flanker TJ Ioane was shown a yellow card for illegally slowing down an attack and the visitors instantly took advantage of the extra man, scoring out wide through Tom Jubb.

It did not take long for the visitors to go over again when Pete White broke away from Topsy Ojo before feeding Scott Tolmie to score.

Any hopes of a Coventry comeback were thwarted as Tom Stephenson led an Irish attack which eventually led to Hassell-Collins going over again in the corner.

And there was time for one last score as Macken found space to add his name to the scoresheet before a late Pete White consolation. The last laugh went to the hosts through Ojo, who leapt across the line in the corner with Atkins adding the extras.

Irish host Yorkshire Carnegie in the Championship Cup semi-finals next Sunday. Stay close to as we have five pairs of free tickets to give away.

IRISH: Veitokani, Ojo, Macken, Stephenson, Hassell-Collins, Keatley, McKibbin, Reid, Porecki, Hoskins, van der Merwe, McNally (c), Tuisue, Ioane, Rogerson.
Reps: O. Adams, Cilliers, Elrington, Maddison, Schatz, Atkins, Steele.
Tries: Keatley (2), McKibbin (30), Porecki (35), Hassell-Collins x2 (47,65), Tuisue (52), Macken (74), Ojo (80)
Cons: Keatley (3), Atkins x5 (31,53,66,75,80)
Yellow card: Ioane (56)

COVENTRY: Halaifonua, J. Bulumakau, Knox, Stevens (c), A. Bulumakau, Lewis, Kessell, Gibbons, Tolmie, Brighouse, Jubb, Voss, Woolford, Nutley, B. Adams.
Reps: Dawidiuk, Ellis, McNulty, Faleafa, Makaafi, White, Maisey.
Tries: Jubb (57), Tolmie (62), White (77)
Pen: Lewis (26)
Cons: Lewis x2 (58,63)
Yellow card: Voss (34)

Referee: Matt Turvey

Scoring sequence (Irish first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 12-3, 14-3, 19-3, 24-3, 29-3, 31-3, 31-8, 31-10, 31-15, 31-17, 36-17, 38-17, 43-17, 45-17, 45-22, 50-22, 52-22.

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