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).
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.
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
Irish name side for west London derby
Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad for Sunday’s derby clash with Harlequins at the Gtech Community Stadium in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership (3pm kick-off).
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Oliver Hoskins are in the front row, with Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman in the second row.
Matt Rogerson captains the side from the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Tom Pearson and Chandler Cunningham-South.
Ben White and Paddy Jackson link up to form the halfback duo, and Rory Jennings partners Benhard van Rensburg in the centres.
Michael Dykes, Lucio Cinti and James Stokes complete the line-up as the back three.
“Whenever these two clubs pitch up against one another, it always creates a good game of rugby,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“I know that we are expecting a good crowd at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, and they will inevitably create a great atmosphere.
“We need to make sure that we put in a full 80-minute performance to give our supporters a reason to show their voice. Harlequins are a well-drilled side, and we know it will be a difficult challenge this weekend, but one we look forward to.”
15 James Stokes, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.
16 Mike Willemse, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.
Baxter issues Moon injury update
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says he cannot give a timescale as to when prop Ben Moon will return to the Exeter Chiefs match-day squad.
The 33-year-old forward is currently Exeter’s longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2008 away to Sedgley Park, and is the last remaining member of their 2009-10 promotion squad.
The England international, however, has not featured for the Devon club since coming off the bench against Munster in last April’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Sandy Park.
Asked by the media this week about Moon, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby said: “I wouldn’t hold out hope that he’s going to be appearing soon. It’s been a challenge for Ben for a little period of time now, it’s not just been this season.
“He’s had periods in and out with it, it’s something that’s been affecting him for a little while and because of what it is we just have to be very careful with it.”
Moon has featured in all six of Exeter’s Premiership final appearances at Twickenham – and he also played in the 2020 European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, and Exeter’s first major final when they beat Northampton Saints to win the 2014 LV Cup.
Moon won eight England caps in the 2018-19 season, but did not make the squad for that autumn’s World Cup in Japan.
“He’s still active around the club, he’s still here, he’s in training, he’s continuing very hard with his rehab and getting everything else he can right, but we’ve just got to be really careful around that neck.
“It’s probably one of those things where it’s getting to the stage where there’s not a lot more we can do. I can’t talk for Ben about his future, but you’re not going to see him in the immediate future on the pitch.”
TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby
South African talisman Rob du Preez is set to make his 100th Sharks appearance whilst Alex Groves is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut as Alex Sanderson names his side to face Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport)
Sanderson makes seven changes to the Sale starting line-up as his squad returns to Gallagher Premiership action following defeat at the hands of Ulster in the Champions Cup.
In the forwards, there is a complete change of the Sharks front-row as Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert all return to face Bath.
Cobus Wiese links back up with Josh Beaumont in the second row following a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Sharks’ clash with Toulouse two weeks ago.
Jono Ross captains the side in the absence of Ben Curry, whilst Sam Dugdale steps in to replace the flanker after his England call up to Steve Borthwick’s England squad. Jean-Luc du Preez retains the number 8 shirt with twin-brother Dan remaining on the side lines due to an ongoing hand injury.
Gus Warr continues to provide a platform for success at scrum-half and links up with centurion Rob du Preez, who is named at fly-half.
The ever-present Sam James retains the thirteen shirt with Ryan Mills picked at inside centre in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. The former Wasps centre is one of two changes in the Sharks’ back line.
Sanderson’s second change in the backs comes in the form of Tom Roebuck, who replaces Arron Reed on the wing after an impressive cameo in the Champions Cup. Tom O’Flaherty is named on the other wing, with exciting academy graduate Joe Carpenter at full-back.
On the bench, Ewan Ashman, Ross Harrison and Joe Jones are named as front-row replacements, with Alex Groves and Rouban Birch providing further cover for the forwards. Raffi Quirke, Luke James and Arron Reed cover the backs.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Jono Ross (c), 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez
16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Alex Groves, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed
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