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Delon Armitage crossed for two tries in an outstanding individual performance but it was not enough to secure the four points Irish were after.
Neither side managed to gain a stronghold in the opening ten minutes of the encounter. Tom Homer put the Exiles in front with a long range penalty after 8 minutes before Charlie Hodgson put Saracens level with a well taken drop goal.
Saracens were penalised twice in the following ten minutes just inside their own half and within range for Tom Homer. The young full back stepped up to increase the Exiles advantage to six points.
Saracens fly half Charlie Hodgson reduced the arrears to three points with his first penalty shot of the game before Delon Armitage crossed for the Exiles first try.
Matt Garvey turned the ball over at the maul to put London Irish on the front foot. Darren Allinson and Adrian Jarvis fizzed two wide passes and found Jonathan Joseph in acres of space. The centre carried the ball 30 metres before passing to Armitage who finished well in the corner. The try put Irish 14 – 6 ahead with the first try scoring opportunity that was clinically taken by the Exiles.
Charlie Hodgson kicked two late penalties to put Saracens back in touch at half time. The Exiles led 14-12.
Saracens made a bright start to the second half, enjoying a strong spell of possession and territory. They could have crossed in the corner but were denied thanks to a try saving tackle by Sailosi Tagicakibau on David Strettle in the right hand corner.
Saracens did however take the lead shortly after with another Hodgson penalty. This was closely followed by their first try from a driving maul which culminated in Will Fraser diving over. Hodgson added the conversion and suddenly there was a bit of day light between the two teams.
Irish needed a response and they got one with another Delon Armitage try. The forwards and backs linked well to create space and eventually the overlap. Alex Gray and Jamie Gibson passed the ball quickly through the hands and onto Armitage, who, at 30 metres out still had plenty to do. He beat the first man and sprinted in for the try to put Irish back in touch.
Hodgson kicked another penalty to stretch Saracens six points ahead and then shortly after Will Fraser was sent to the sin bin for the visitors who had to play the rest of the match with 14 men.
The Exiles failed to take advantage of the extra man and it was Saracens who finished the game with a second Charlie Hodgson drop goal to ensure a 28-19 victory.
London Irish face Worcester Warriors at Sixways next weekend before the final Aviva Premiership match of the season against Gloucester at Madejski Stadium on May 5th.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-3, 6-3, 9-3, 9-6, 14-6, 14-9, 14-12, 14-15, 14-22, 19-22, 19-25, 19-28
Scorers: London Irish; Penalties: Homer (8, 15 19); Tries; Armitage (29, 66); Conversions: Saracens; Drop goal; Hodgson (10, 79); Penalties: Hodgson (24, 36, 38, 53, 70); Tries: Fraser (58)
London Irish team
15. Tom Homer; 14. Delon Armitage; 13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Joe Ansbro; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau (rep: Topsy Ojo, 69); 10. Adrian Jarvis; 9. Darren Allinson; 1. Alex Corbisiero (Captain); 2. David Paice (rep: James Buckland, 66); 3. Faan Rautenbach (rep: Leo Halavatau, 53); 4. Bryn Evans; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Jamie Gibson; 7. Richard Thorpe (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 62); 8. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Alex Gray, 62)
Replacements: 16. James Buckland; 17. Max Lahiff; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Topsy Ojo; 22. Steve Shingler; 23. Ross Samson
15. Alex Goode; 14. David Strettle; 13. Chris Wyles; 12. Brad Barritt; 11. Michael Tagicakibau (rep: Joel Tomkins, 5); 10. Charlie Hodgson; 9. Neil de Kock (rep: Ricard Wigglesworth,58); 1. Rhys Gill (rep: Carlos Nieto, 66); 2. Schalk Brits (rep: Jamie George, 62); 3. Matt Stevens (rep: Mako Vunipola, 66); 4. Steve Borthwick (Captain); 5. George Kruis (rep: Mouritz Botha, 6); 6. Jackson Wray; 7. Will Fraser; 8. Ernst Joubert
Replacements: 16. Jamie George; 17.Mako Vunipola; 18. Carlos Nieto; 19. Mouritz Botha; 20. Justin Melck; 21. Richard Wigglesworth; 22. Adam Powell; 23. Joel Tomkins
Referee: Martin Fox