Player commitments with the England EPS squads and today’s Middlesex Sevens tournament meant that a number of experienced players were missing from the Exiles’ match squad. Six of the club’s new signings – Paulica Ion, Ryan Lamb, Jamie Lennard, Andy Perry, Ben Stevenson and George Stowers, made their debuts alongside Academy and established players to face a physically strong and talented London Welsh team.
In an entertaining opening half the visitors opened the scoring with a penalty by fly half Aled Thomas. Irish responded with a try by Tom Homer. Adam Thompstone, Marcus Watson and Jonathan Joseph (both Academy players) added further tries for Irish before the break. All three were converted by Ryan Lamb who showed touches of real class on his debut. Ed Lewis-Pratt touched down for Welsh for a half-time score of 26-8.
Thomas scored his second penalty for the visitors just after the re-start. With the Irish pack led by Clarke Dermody beginning to exert its superior strength, the backs prompted by Alfredo Lalanne at scrum-half and Lamb and Jamie Lennard interchanging roles at fly half and inside centre, it was only a matter of time before the home team scored again. Joseph added his second try in 47 minutes. The Welsh pack worked hard for a touch down in the 54th minute.
The try of the evening came in the 67th minute when Lennard broke through a crowded midfield to pass to Watson on his left. The 18-year-old took off down the left wing before cutting inside and with a side-step that Sailosi Tagicakibau or Topsy Ojo would be proud of, left the Welsh full back on his bottom as he raced to touchdown under the posts. Fittingly, Lennard added the extras. The final score of the match was an unconverted try for the visitors by Errie Claassens which left the final score at 38-21 to Irish.
An interesting footnote to the evening was the replacement of Ryan Lamb by 17-year-old Guy Armitage in the 67th minute. Guy became the third of the famous brothers to play at senior level for the club in the same era.
Scorers: London Irish: Tries – Homer (6), Thmpstone (16), Watson (19, 67), Joseph (34, 47); Conversions – Lamb 3, Lennard. London Welsh: Tries: Lewis-Patt (11), forwards (54), Claassens (75). Penalty goals: Thomas 2 (4, 42).
Scoring sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 5-3, 5-8, 12-8, 19-8, 26-8 (half-time) 26-11, 31-11, 31-16, 38-16, 38-11.
London Irish squad: (Backs) G Armitage, S Edgerley, T Homer, J Joseph, A Lalanne, R Lamb, J Lennard, P Richards, B Stevenson, A Thompstone, M Watson. (Forwards) J Buckland, D Coetzee, D Danaher, C Dermody, J Fisher, J Gibson, R Herring, P Ion, G Johnson, M Lahiff, D Murphy, A Perry, K Roche, R Thorpe, G Stowers.
London Welsh squad: (Backs) R Bell, E Claassens, G Evans, J Giles, R Lewis, E Lewis-Pratt, N Runciman, D Shabbo, N Starling, A Thomas, S Whatling. (Forwards) L Beach, T Brown, M Corker, D George, B Gotting, M Hills, M Holford, J Horn-Smith, G O’Meara, M Powell, B Thomas, J Mills, L Ward, D Williams.
Referee: Mr A Small (RFU)