Last gasp defeat sees Exiles winning ways come to an end
THE UNBEATEN start is over for London Irish after a last-gasp defeat at bogey side Jersey.
The Channel Islanders were the only team to beat the Exiles the last time they were in the Championship and they repeated the trick in dramatic fashion.
Leading 14-10 heading into the final minute thanks to tries from Topsy Ojo and Blair Cowan, Irish looked like they had done enough to cling on until Auguy Slowik burst through for Jersey in the final play of the game.
“Jersey outscored us three tries to two so they deserved their victory,” said director of rugby Declan Kidney.
“Obviously we’re disappointed at finishing this part of the season with that loss but we need to regroup now.
“There’s things to be learnt from it.”
Table-topping Irish made five changes from their win over
Cornish Pirates with Ciaran Hearn, Stephen Myler, Barney Maddison, Pat Cilliers and Dave Porecki replacing Brendan Macken, Brendan McKibbin, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Motu Matu’u and Jake Schatz.
It was a physical encounter from the off at St Peter and the game developed into a kicking contest.
The deadlock was finally broken on the half hour mark when the Exiles got their noses in front. After Jersey’s Janco Venter had been sent to the sin bin for illegally stopping a quick ball, Irish made the extra man count when Ojo burst along the touchline to score before Myler added the extras.
Undeterred by falling behind, the Reds peppered the Irish back-line and while Kidney’s men preserved their 7-0 lead into half-time, Jersey scored soon after the restart in incredible fashion.
Collecting the ball behind their own try-line, the hosts brilliantly worked the ball all the way up the field before Slowik went over in the corner.
A period of pressure from Jersey followed, but Irish held firm and struck again when captain Josh McNally found a gap to offload to the marauding Cowan to score under the posts.
Leeroy Van Dam reduced the arrears to 14-10 with 20 minutes to play as the home fans sensed a shock win.
Time appeared to have run out for Jersey with the clock four minutes beyond the 80, but they continually worked through 16 bruising phases before eventually finding a way through with Slowik doing the honours again.
Aaron Penberthy added the extras with the final kick of the game as Reds made it six wins in a row.
Exiles sit top of the table at the halfway mark, four points clear of Ealing Trailfinders with a block of six cup matches next up before Christmas, starting away at Hartpury College on Saturday (1pm).
LONDON IRISH: McLean, Ojo (Tonks 57), Hearn, Campbell, Hassell-Collins, Myler, Meehan (Steele 64), Cilliers (HobbsAwoyemi 46), Porecki (Matu’u 52), Hoskins (Saulo 72), Maddison, Paulo (Gilsenan 64), McNally (c), Cowan (Schatz 64), Rogerson. Tries: Ojo (31), Cowan (50)
Cons: Myler x2 (32,51)
JERSEY: Slowik, Marx (Herron 14), Newey, Best, Van Dam, Penberthy, Homer (Waters 63), Morley (Godfrey 45), Maddison (Selway 55), Atalifo (Rodman 60), Sexton (c), McKern (Beckett 53), Argyle (Hatherell 75), Bartle, Venter.
Tries: Slowik x2 (45,80), Van Dam (60)
Con: Penberthy (80)
Yellow card: Venter (31)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Attendance: 2,515 Scoring sequence (Irish first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-5, 12-5, 14-5, 14-10, 14-15, 14-17.