Premiership: London Irish 39-17 Newcastle Falcons: Exiles off bottom

James Stokes try
James Stokes stretched over to score London Irish’s first try
London Irish (13) 39
Tries: Stokes, Jackson, Luna 2, Coleman Cons: Jackson 4 Pens: Jackson 2
Newcastle Falcons (7) 17
Tries: Carreras, Pepper Cons: Connon 2 Pen: Connon

London Irish moved off the bottom of the Premiership with a pulsating win over Newcastle Falcons.

The Exiles led by six points at the break as Paddy Jackson’s two penalties added to James Stokes’ try but fell behind 17-13 early in the second half.

Jackson sparked a comeback with a try on his way to a haul of 19 points, before Lucio Cinti Luna crossed twice either side of Adam Coleman’s try.

The bonus-point win ended a run of five straight defeats for Irish.

They climbed above Bristol with the win and stayed there on points difference after the Bears drew 26-26 with reigning Premiership champions Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s final game.

Stokes wrestled his way through to touch down the opening score after 10 minutes for Irish, with Jackson slotting the extras.

But soon Falcons’ pacy wing Adam Radwan flew from right to left before floating a perfect pass out for Argentinian Mateo Carreras to cross in the corner to maintain his try-a-game ratio.

Brett Connon’s boot levelled the scores, but two Jackson penalties sent the Exiles 13-7 ahead at the break.

The visitors improved after the turnaround and Connon reduced the arears with a penalty before a ferocious rolling maul after a close-range line-out saw Rory Pepper driven over, with Connon’s conversion making it 17-13 with 30 minutes left.

The pendulum swung the other way with Irish producing an intense passage of play which ended with Jackson crossing and converting his own score to give the hosts a lead they would never relinquish.

Jackson then turned provider, combining with Ben Loader to feed Argentine Luna to cut inside and barge through two tackles to extend the advantage. Coleman notched the bonus-point score with eight minutes remaining following a superb kick into the 22 from Ollie Hassell-Collins.

Newcastle’s Tom Penny spent the closing stages in the sin-bin following a high-tackle and Luna made the most of his side’s man advantage to register his second, which Jackson converted from the touchline.

Irish are in Champions Cup action on the next two weekends before returning to the Premiership when they host Saracens on 23 December.

The Falcons have Challenge Cup fixtures in the next two weeks before they face Sale on 23 December.

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney told BBC Radio London:

“Being back at home is a big influence – someone said it’s been 43 days since our last home game. The scoreline probably does Newcastle a little bit of an injustice but we stuck at it to the end and we’re delighted with the result, though we know there’s still room for improvement.

“We were probably tentative in the first half, they came back strongly in that 10 or 15 minutes after half-time but it was at that stage we said ‘let’s get going here’ and I thought we played really well from there on in.

“Newcastle have been scoring for fun, to hold them to two tries was a real pleasing aspect of the performance. We had a couple of good defensive sets and managed to take our opportunities when they came our way.”

Falcons head coach Dave Walder:

“We’re very disappointed at our own performance, and for our supporters who came down to get behind the lads.

“The things we’ve been doing well over the past couple of weeks, we didn’t do today, and we’ll have to spend some time looking into the reasons why.

“Our accuracy, basics, energy and physicality were all lacking – it was a poor day at the office.

“Unfortunately when things began to go against us after that we lost our way, and it’s really disappointing.

“Credit to Irish. They’ve got a huge amount of quality, but we’re just disappointed by how we played today. We didn’t turn up, if we’re totally honest, and we’ll be looking into the reasons behind that.”

London Irish: Stokes; Loader, Joseph, Morisi, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, White; Gigena, Creevy, Chawatama, Ratuniyarawa, Munga, Rogerson, Gonzalez, Basham.

Replacements: Willemse, Fischetti, Hoskins, Caulfield, Coleman, Cunningham-South, Powell, Luna.

Newcastle: Obatoyinbo; Radwan, Stevenson, Moroni, Carreras; Connon, Young; Brocklebank, McGuigan, Palframan, Peterson, de Chaves, Chick, Pepper, Fearns.

Replacements: Blamire, Cade, Tampin, Dalton, Marshall, Stuart, Schoeman, Penny.

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