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MATCH REPORT: London Irish 45, Worcester Warriors 14



London Irish opened their 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership account with a more than convincing showing over Worcester Warriors at the Gtech Community Stadium, winning 45-14.

A magnificent seven tries were scored on the day by Declan Kidney’s team, Ben Donnell the man to take Irish ahead with more tries from Ben White and Ollie Hassell-Collins giving them a 19-0 lead at half-time.

Henry Arundell’s introduction only further extended the Exiles procession, grabbing the try bonus with another headline-grabbing, globe-trotting, sensational score with his first touch.

The replacement registered another to conclude proceedings with the clock in the red, with fellow internationals Will Joseph and Agustín Creevy bagging tries of their own in an exhibition of attacking rugby at the Gtech.

Worcester asked questions of Irish defensively in the first five minutes, employing bustling phase play that was only bettered by Irish’s resolute set that concluded with a Worcester double movement, following a great Ollie Hassell-Collins tackle.

Two touch finders from Paddy Jackson advanced Irish into promising positions, but Will Joseph was put into touch to end Irish’s hopes for the time being.

Curtis Rona’s kick from hand was halted with a recovering tackle, Worcester were then on the breakaway were met by another impressive Hassell-Collins effort on the ground, jackalling to regain an Irish foothold once more.

Hassell-Collins demonstrated his capabilities with ball in hand also, cutting across the face of the pitch perpendicular to Irish’s attacking motion to expose space in the Warriors backline and find Benhard van Rensburg.

The South African then found midfield partner Rona in a flowing numerical ascendency in the Irish backs, the Australian connecting to Ben Donnell who ran a fantastic support line to cut the ball back infield for the Academy product to score- Jackson adding the conversion.

The Exiles were putting on a show at the breakdown, Facundo Gigena getting over the ball magnificently to stop the opposing sides’ progression in midfield.

It was the aforementioned backs involved who this time incorporated Will Joseph, the England international delivering the killer blow in the shape of an incisive ball inside to scrum-half Ben White to dot down, Jackson making no mistake.

A penalty conceded in their own half by Worcester was only worsened when official Wayne Barnes marched them back 10 metres, Irish duly obliging in going for touch in hopes of bagging their third score.

Slick interplay from Irish resulted in them doing just that- working out wide from right to left with a tip pass from Curtis Rona proving decisive in his team’s progression, James Stokes finding fellow outside back Hassell-Collins crashing through three tackles to touch down in the left corner.

Worcester wasn’t without reply, only for an Alex Hearle knock-on were they within metres of the whitewash, and another spill from Gareth Simpson awarded Irish the put-in.

A few disagreements between the sides, with the penalty initially awarded to Worcester after a strong first half in the set-piece from the Exiles, saw Barnes reverse his decision after an altercation post-scrum.

Irish would have their way at scrumtime again, this time turning over the ball in another hulking showing before half-time.

Warriors’ Cameron Nield was penalised for playing the ball off his feet not long after play resumed, but Irish were unable to capitalise and bring home a try bonus after a Donnell knock-on.

The Exile Nation were rewarded for their patience with a try for the ages, benefitting from the advantage after Worcester collapsed a maul with Jackson finding Hassell-Collins on the wing.

The form flyer kicked ahead but was deflected- that wasn’t an issue for recently introduced Henry Arundell though, making up for the lack of football this weekend with an awe-inspiring half volley forward to collect on the whitewash and wrap up the try bonus.

Irish, never complacent, had their proverbial tails up, Jackson’s sublime mispass locating a surging Donnell out wide but the flanker’s offload couldn’t be recouped.

Talk about impact subs, Danilo Fischetti’s first involvement was contributing to another scrum turnover win for the Exiles and Irish were back in the corner.

Whilst there was nothing doing for Irish off the rolling maul, a knock-on from Worcester played into Irish’s hands with Joseph dancing through a gap to reach out and touch down in a crowning homecoming for the Club’s first capped England stars in a decade.

Warriors took their first five-pointer of the afternoon with 15 minutes remaining through former Irish player Curtis Langdon, who bundled over under to posts to hand Owen Williams an easy pop at two further points.

Whilst Arundell’s audacious chip-and-chase didn’t come off this time, his fellow Academy graduate and England star retook Irish ball with an industrious turnover.

Speaking of internationals, replacement Agustín Creevy was next in on the act, spotting a gap beyond the ruck to score- but his one-handed offload in the phases beforehand will be the talk of the town for the much-adored hooker as fellow substitute Englefield added the extras.

Steve Diamond’s side gave the visiting supporters something to shout about late on, with new signing Fergus Lee-Warner passing to an oncoming Alex Hearle to find full-back Jamie Shillcock who careered over.

Arundell marked his return to rugby in Brentford with a brace, van Rensburg floating a bullet pass to the youngster who touched down unopposed, Englefield capping off the fine afternoon in west London with the final conversion of the affair.


Score sequence (London Irish first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 24-0, 26-0, 31-0, 31-5, 31-7, 36-7, 38-7, 38-12, 38-14, 43-14, 45-14

London Irish: Tries: Donnell (15), White (24), Hassell-Collins (31), Arundell (47) (80), Joseph (58) Creevy (70); Conversions: Jackson (16) (25) (48), Englefield (70) (80).

Worcester Warriors: Tries: Langdon (65) Shillcock (75); Conversions: Williams (66) (76).


London Irish:

15 James Stokes (Arundell 47), 14 Will Joseph, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson (Morisi 59), 9 Ben White (Englefield 59); 1 Facundo Gigena (Fischetti 47), 2 Matt Cornish (Creevy 51), 3 Lovejoy Chawatama (Parker 59), 4 Rob Simmons (c), 5 Adam Coleman (Ratuniyarawa 55), 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Josh Basham (Cooke 68).


16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Jack Cooke, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.


Worcester Warriors:

15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence (Heward 59), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Billy Searle (Williams 35), 9 Gareth Simpson (Chudley 59); 1 Valeriy Morozov (Sutherland 47), 2 Hame Faiva (Langdon 47), 3 Murray McCallum (Tyack 45), 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild (c) (G Kitchener 68), 8 Matt Kvesic (Todd 55).


16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Noah Heward.


Referee: Mr Wayne Barnes

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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