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The Exiles failed to control the ball and pace of the game in the final 20 minutes and allowed Edinburgh back into the contest and the chance to take the first four points of the campaign.
Tom Homer settled early nerves with a trade mark penalty goal 45 metres out to give his side the early lead on six minutes. Edinburgh outside half Harry Leonard had moments earlier missed a penalty goal attempt from exactly the same position.
Edinburgh were penalised moments later for the same offence that led to the first penalty, holding onto the ball on the floor. This time Tom Homer stepped up from inside his own half to kick his second goal of the day and increase London Irish’s lead to 6-0.
Irish were certainly looking to mix up their attack opting to run from the own half on some occasions and the more sensible kicking option on others. Tom Homer had high balls to contend with early on but dealt with them expertly as per usual.
Lee Jones crossed for the first try of the game during a spell where the visitors enjoyed a fair amount of possession. Tim Visser broke down the wing and offloaded well out of the tackle by Joe Ansbro to the supporting Jones who finished well in the corner. Harry Leonard made amends for his earlier miss with a well struck conversion from the corner to give his side a one point advantage.
Irish slowly came back at their opponents and into the contest. They seemed to be better in the contact area than Edinburgh and at scrum time. Tom Homer edged Irish back in front with his third successful penalty of the game. Edinburgh were penalised for going off their feet at the ruck.
It took 27 minutes for the first big tackle of the game and Edinburgh’s David Denton felt the full force. Shontayne Hape lined up the visitors blindside flanker and put in an enormous hit, dislodging the ball in the process.
The Hape tackle seemed to breathe life into the Exiles. Firstly Shontayne Hape came close to scoring but was denied by good Edinburgh defence. Toby Booth’s side did have their first try of the game only seconds later. Adam Thompstone showed great strength down the wing dragging three tacklers with him. Quick ball allowed Tom Homer to break the gain line only to be stopped a metre out. Former Edinburgh scrum half Ross Samson was on hand to pick the ball up and dive over for his first London Irish try. Tom Homer added the extras to put the Exiles 16-7 up.
Harry Leonard cut the deficit to six points with two minutes remaining in the half and that was how it remained until half time.
The second stanza opened with a kicking dual. After some early aimless kicking Tom Homer gathered the ball on his own ten metre line and sent a beautiful spiralling kick which bounced before finding touch.
A fine set piece move saw Joe Ansbro make a great break against many of his fellow countrymen. Edinburgh gave away a penalty after Ansbro was tackled to gift Homer another three points.
The men in green and black were better in all facets of the game and for the first 15 minutes of the second half starving Edinburgh of possession and territory. Although for the following five minutes the Exiles seemed to switch off and in doing so allowed Edinburgh back into the contest.
Stuart McInally crossed on the hour mark to silence the Madejski Stadium. The number 8 showed good speed and strength to cross the Irish line. Leonard converted to make it a two point game.
Edinburgh edged ahead going into the final ten minutes. Leonard kicked a penalty goal, however it could have been so much more as Tim Visser had his try ruled out by the TMO.
The final ten minutes saw frantic rugby from the Exiles. They kept knocking on the door but couldn’t seem to make a way through. The visitors held on to claim the one point victory.
London Irish travel to Cardiff next Friday to take on the Blues in a crucial contest.
Score sequence (London Irish first) 3-0, 6-0, 6-7, 9-7, 16-10, 19-10, 19-17, 19-20
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Samson (30); Conversions: Homer; Penalties: Homer (6, 9, 24, 46); Edinburgh: Tries: Jones (16), McInally (60); Conversions: Leonard, Laidlaw; Penalties: Leonard (38), Laidlaw (69)
London Irish team
15. Tom Homer; 14. Joe Ansbro; 13. Steve Shingler; 12. Shontyane Hape; 11. Adam Thompstone; 10. Dan Bowden (Captain); 9. Ross Samson (rep: Paul Hodgson, 67); 1. Alex Corbisiero (rep: Max Lahiff, 54); 2. James Buckland 9rep: Brian Blaney, 70); 3. Paulica Ion (rep: Faan Rautenbach, 54); 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Matt Garvey (rep: James Sandford, 61); 6. Bryn Evans; 7. Jamie Gibson (rep: Richard Thorpe, 61); 8. Jebb Sinclair
Replacements: 16. Brian Blaney; 17. Max Lahiff; 18. Faan Rautenbacch; 19. James Sandford; 20. Richard Thorpe; 21. Jonathan Spratt; 22. Adrian Jarvis; 23. Paul Hodgson
15. Jim Thompson; 14. Lee Jones; 13. Nick De Luca; 12. Matt Scott; 11. Tim Visser; 10. Harry Leonard; 9. Mike Blair (rep: Grieg Laidlaw, 47); 1. Allan Jacobsen; 2. Ross Ford (Captain); 3. Geoff Cross (rep: Lewis Nevin, 21-24); 4. Estaban Lozada; 5. Grant Gilchrist; 6. David Denton (rep: Sean Cox, 28); 7. Ross Rennie (rep: Roddy Grant, 47); 8. Stuart McInally
Replacements: 16. Steven Lawrie; 17. Kyle Traynor; 18. Lewis Niven; 19. Sean Cox; 20. Roddy Grant; 21. Grieg Laidlaw; 22. James King; 23. Tom Brown
Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)