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The hosts scored the only try of the match in their victory on a freezing cold evening in the Welsh capital. Tom Homer kicked the Exiles points.
It was never going to be a classic given the condition of the Arms Park surface. Rain had saturated the pitch during the week and the grass cut up almost immediately after the kick-off and turned it into a quagmire.
Cardiff just had the better of the opening quarter with Michael Paterson’s break on 15 minutes the standout. The back row forward broke through and passed to Gavin Evans who was tackled well by Marland Yarde who forced the ball forward.
Chris Hala’ufia and Guy Armitage were both prominent in the first half, carrying the ball strongly and creating havoc around the tackle area.
The Exiles took the lead on 22 minutes with a Tom Homer penalty goal. Guy Armitage was outstanding in the lead up making two important tackles before getting up and carrying the ball.
The Blues replied 11 minutes later with the first try of the match and the conditions played a huge part in it. Rhys Patchell grubber kicked the ball through and in the tricky conditions forced an Irish error. Gavin Evans was on hand to touch down for an opportunistic score. Rhys Patchell converted to put his side 7-3 ahead.
Tom Homer kicked a long penalty that ricocheted off the post and that was as close as Irish got to a reply before half time. The Exiles went into the sheds four points adrift at 3-7.
In the second half both sides failed to get any momentum. Irish had more of the ball but were not able to make the most of the possession they had.
The set piece was working well given the conditions and Irish were the dominant side at the scrum. This dominance showed when referee, Ian Tempest, blew up for a penalty which Tom Homer made no mistake from to cut the deficit to one point.
Cardiff were enjoying a lot of success with their kick chase game and forced another error to allow Patchell to kick his first penalty of the night and make it a four point game moving into the final 10 minutes.
The hosts held on to claim a 10-6 victory. Irish now have to wait and see what happens at Sixways tomorrow afternoon between Worcester Warriors and Saracens to see if they make the semi-finals.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-7, 6-7, 6-10
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: Homer (22, 55); Cardiff Blues: Tries: Evans (33); Conversions: Patchell; Penalties: Patchell (68)
15. Jason Tovey; 14. Owen Williams; 13. Gavin Evans (Captain); 12. Dafydd Hewitt; 11. Harry Robinson; 10. Rhys Patchell. 9. Alex Walker; 1. Nathan Trevett (rep: Sam Hobbs, 53); 2. Rhys Williams (rep: Kristian Dacey, 68); 3. Benoit Bourrust (rep: Taufa’ao Filise, 53); 4. Cory Hill (rep: Luke Hamilton, 8); 5. James Down; 6. Michael Paterson; 7. Thomas Young (rep: Rory Watts-Jones, 68); 8. Robin Copeland
Replacements: 16. Kristian Dacey; 17. Sam Hobbs; 18. Taufa’ao Filise; 19. Luke Hamilton; 20. Rory Watts-Jones; 21. Lewis Jones; 22. Ceri Sweeney; 23. Chris Czekaj
15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Guy Armitage; 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Shane Geraghty (Captain) (rep: Ian Humphreys, 55); 9. Pat Phibbs (rep: Jack Moates, 55); 1. Max Lahiff (rep: Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 68); 2. Mike Mayhew (rep: Davy McGregor, 68); 3. Halani Aulika ( rep: Leo Halavatau, 60); 4. Kieran Low; 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Matt Garvey; 7. Jebb Sinclair; 8. Chris Hala’ufia (rep: Alex Gray, 60)
Replacements: 16. Davy McGregor; 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. James Sandford; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Steven Shingler; 22. Ian Humphreys; 23. Jack Moates
Referee: Ian Tempest
Attendance: 5, 938