Saracens leave it late against London Irish

Billy Vunipola and his brother Mako have re-signed with Saracens

Billy Vunipola scored a late try to help Saracens snatch a 32-36 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Irish stunned Sarries away from home last season, and almost managed to do
the same on their own turf with a magnificent four try haul.

Alex Lewington’s hat-trick seemed to be enough, but Vunipola’s last-gasp score
snatched a win for last year’s league leaders.

After a vital win against Newcastle last week, Irish had good reason to go
into the game with some confidence, but were dealt an early blow.

Brad Barritt made an early break, and set up his centre partner Tim Streather
to score inside two minutes, a score which helped to keep the Madjeski Stadium
quiet.

Despite spending the first 10 minutes without a touch of the ball, Irish got
themselves back in the game. After Owen Farrell’s penalty, the home side scored
straight from kick off.

Shane Geraghty’s vision was superb, chipping a ball over the top of the Sarries
defence and giving Blair Cowan a run into the corner.

Irish were playing well against their high-spending opponents, but were unable
to prevent another try from the visitors. Richard Wigglesworth’s break caught
out the home defence, and the scrum-half raced away to increase the lead.

Many would have expected Brian Smith’s men to roll over after Wigglesworth’s
score, but two tries before the break put Irish just four points behind.

Lewington scored two in ten minutes, the first a superb finish in the corner,
the second a lovely gather and touchdown after a Scott Steele grubber.

Farrell’s late penalty did slightly take the gloss off a superb Irish first
half, though.

The Exiles came out for the second period with the same attacking intent as
they had in the first, with Geraghty knocking over a sensational penalty to
keep it a one-point game.

There was more sensation soon after, Lewington scored the try of the game,
completing his hat-trick and putting Irish in front for the first time.

Alex Goode took over Farrell’s kicking responsibilities, and scored two quick-fire
penalties to put the scores level at 29-a-piece.

With the game on a knife edge, every kick was significant, with Geraghty squeezing
one over from long range to keep the Exiles ahead, and Goode missing what would
usually have been the simplest of kicks.

Saracens took a huge gamble with a minute to go, choosing to kick into the
corner despite their being a kickable penalty.

It paid off. The ball was shifted to the back, with Sarries powering past a
tiring London Irish maul to break Exiles hearts.

Final Score London Irish 32 (19) Saracens 36 (23)

Scorers

London Irish
Tries – Cowan, Lewington (3)
Pen – Geraghty
Con – Geraghty (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Saracens
Tries – Streather, Wigglesworth, Vunipola
Pen – Farrell (3), Goode
Con – Farrell (2) , Hodgson
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee
: Luke Pearce (29th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell and Nigel Carrick.
TMO: David Grashoff

Teams

London Irish

15. Andrew Fenby; 14. Alex Lewington; 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Shane Geraghty*; 11. James Short; 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Scott Steele; 1. Tom Court*; 2. David Paice*; 3. Halani Aulika*; 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Jebb Sinclair*; 6. Blair Cowan*; 7. Ofisa Treviranus*; 8.

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