London Irish opened their Gallagher Premiership account with a hard fought 26-29 win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena this afternoon.
Tries from Blair Cowan, Albert Tuisue and a long range effort from Ollie Hassell-Collins, combined with 14 points off the boot of Paddy Jackson, was enough to get the Exiles across the line.
Irish started the contest well and after going behind to a Lima Sopoaga penalty striking back right away. Paddy Jackson fizzed a pass to Ollie Hassell-Collins who broke down the left-hand flank. The winger was tackled five metres short of the line but three phases later, Blair Cowan bundled over the line for the opening score of the game.
Sopoaga and Jackson traded penalties before the hosts struck back with their first try of the afternoon. The Exiles were turned over after gathering the restart and Wasps capitalised with Zach Kibirige squeezing in at the corner. The try gave Wasps an 11-8 lead.
Declan Kidney’s side continued to stay in the fight and, when Jackson kicked his second penalty goal of the afternoon from 45 metres the scores were level at 11-11 at the half hour mark.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining there was still a few twists and turns to take place. London Irish crossed for their second try of the afternoon following a well worked line-out. Paddy Jackson kicked to the corner and the resulting catch and drive saw a rampaging Albert Tuisue thunder back towards the Wasps try line carrying three Wasps defenders over with him.
The Exiles lead lasted three minutes, with Zach Kibirigie crossing for his second of the afternoon to lock the game up again, this time at 16-16.
Irish went into the break with the lead, Jackson converting his third penalty after a great penalty turnover was won by Blair Cowan. 16-19 Irish led at the break.
Hassell-Collins got what his first half performance deserved, three minutes into the second half. The winger sprinted in from 55 metres out, collecting a wide passed from the impressive Cowan to score his side’s third try. Jackson converted from the sideline to give his side a 10-point lead at 16-26.
A Jackson penalty five minutes later was converted as referee JP Doyle penalised Wasps for being offside in the midfield. Irish led 16-29 with just over 30 minutes remaining.
The following exchanges saw Wasps dominate possession in the Irish 22, however it was meet with resolute Irish defence. A stand-out moment saw Tom Parton make an outstanding try saving tackle to prevent Kibirigie his hat-trick in the corner.
The hosts were not to be denied and, after gutsy Irish defence, Dan Robson eventually spotted a gap to dot down and bring Wasps right back into it. Sopoaga’s conversion reduced the deficit to 23-29 in favour of London Irish.
Jacob Umaga, on as a second half replacement, reduced the arrears further with a penalty goal and it was agonisingly close moving towards the end.
Wasps were camped on the Exiles line with time up on the clock and, when the ball was fumbled by the hosts, Jackson touched down over the Exiles try line to secure a three point victory.
Wasps are delighted to announce that Alex McHenry and Patrick Harrison have joined the Club on short-term deals from United Rugby Championship sides Munster Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby respectively.
McHenry, a 24-year-old centre, will provide cover for Malakai Fekitoa while he is out with a shoulder injury, while Harrison will provide vital cover at hooker with Gabriel Oghre unavailable.
The 6ft 2in Irishman McHenry, came through the Munster Academy and was capped by Ireland U20 in 2017. McHenry also featured for the Ireland 7s side during the following season. The Christian Brothers College product captained Munster U19s in 2015.
19-year-old Harrison, made his Edinburgh debut against Dragons at the Principality Stadium in March 2020 at the age of 18, becoming the youngest hooker in the club’s history.
That day, he also became the third youngest debutant in PRO14 history – and Edinburgh’s fourth youngest debutant of all time. Harrison made his first start for the Scottish side in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash against Ulster in June 2021.
Wasps Men’s Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “We are delighted to bring Alex and Paddy on board. They will provide vital cover for us, while we are without a number of first team squad players.”
McHenry added: “I am delighted to get the opportunity to play in the Gallagher Premiership.
“Wasps play a great brand of rugby and I’m looking forward to playing my part in that.”
Harrison said: “I am excited to come down and play some rugby in the English Premiership.
“Wasps are a famous Club, and it is an honour to have joined them.”
Tickets are available for our next Gallagher Premiership home games online by clicking here or by calling the Wasps Ticket Office on 02476 786 411.
Cardiff Rugby are thrilled to secure the services of Wales flanker Thomas Young on a long-term deal at the Arms Park.
The 29-year-old, who came through the Cardiff pathway and made 10 senior appearances before crossing the border, has established himself as one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership.
During a seven-season stay at Wasps, Young has made 141 appearances and scored 35 tries – more than any other forward in the Coventry-based club’s history.
His fine form for Wasps has led to three previous Wales caps, with eligibility rules preventing further appearances but Young has now taken the decision to return to his homeland.
He said: “I’m really excited to have this opportunity at Cardiff and I’m looking forward to returning home to Wales.
“It was a difficult decision to make because I’ve had such an enjoyable time at Wasps and learnt so much, which I remain very grateful for but I’m also a proud Welshman and the opportunity to stake a claim for further international honours was too great to turn down.
“Once I made that decision, Cardiff was always my preference – this is my home club. I am born and bred in the Cynon Valley, I played all of my age-grade rugby for the region and still have a lot of friends here from that time.
“I’m looking forward to linking up with the boys and contributing next season but remain fully committed to Wasps and want to sign off on a high.”
Young last featured for Wasps in Sunday’s Midlands derby victory over Northampton Saints, in which he was named man-of-the-match.
He has also captained the English giants on numerous occasions and Dai Young, who of course is the flanker’s father, believes he will be a significant addition for the Blue and Blacks.
The Cardiff Director of Rugby said: “When Thomas made the decision to return to Wales, we were of course very keen to bring him home to Cardiff – that goes for myself, the coaches and board.
“It is my job to improve and develop this squad and I have no doubt that Thomas will significantly add to our strength and depth in the back-row and drive standards in our environment.
“He suits the style we want to play and I know he will do his talking on the pitch and show everyone in Wales how good he is.
“This is just the first in a number of signings we will make in this building process and the journey we are on. I know the positions we want to strengthen and we will continue to do that.”
Bath Rugby is pleased to announce experienced scrum-half Joe Simpson has joined the Blue, Black and Whites on an initial three-month loan from Gloucester.
The 33-year-old arrives as injury cover for Ben Spencer and will compete for a starting berth alongside Ollie Fox, Max Green and Tom Carr-Smith.
Simpson has been one of the most consistent performers in the Gallagher Premiership since graduating from the Wasps Academy in 2008.
He headed into the Black and Gold’s first team striking up an electric partnership with Danny Cipriani, culminating inthe duo playing 53 Wasps games together across the latter’s two spells at the club.
Featuring over 250 times for Wasps in 13 years, one-cap England international Simpson signed for Gloucester in 2019 where he scored 11 tries in 29 matches ahead of a short-term deal with Saracens this season.
“We are delighted to bring in a player of Joe’s Premiership quality to our group,” Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper said.
“He adds great experience to our squad and will enhance the competition for the nine shirt alongside Ollie, Max and Tom whilst Ben is injured.”