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London Irish win clash of the Premiership strugglers to move above Newcastle

Published 10/01/2016

Topsy Ojo scored a try as London Irish saw off fellow Aviva Premiership strugglers Newcastle.
Topsy Ojo scored a try as London Irish saw off fellow Aviva Premiership strugglers Newcastle.

Topsy Ojo scored his first try since March 2014 as London Irish moved off the bottom of the Aviva Premiership table with a 20-15 victory over fellow strugglers Newcastle.

After a non-descript first 40 minutes - which saw Irish fly-half Chris Noakes slot two penalties - Alex Lewington collected Shane Geraghty's kick-off and raced over in an explosive start to the second half.

Three minutes later Geraghty, who had immediately set about bringing flair to proceedings after replacing Noakes, then lofted skywards for veteran back Ojo to collect and dot down.

Falcons responded through a try for Nili Latu before Andy Goode, who retired in the summer weeks after signing for Irish only to make a comeback with Newcastle last month, came on for the visitors and kicked a penalty.

He converted Marcus Watson's 66th-minute score - but the Exiles held on to record a crucial victory.

Although Newcastle started the stronger, Latu made a high tackle on Will Lloyd with eight minutes gone and former Auckland Blues fly-half Noakes made no mistake from straight in front of the posts.

The hosts cut open the Falcons defence 10 minutes later when Lewington came off his wing with a fantastic angle to join a flowing backs move.

He was dragged down 10 metres short of the line and the Falcons were offside from one of the resulting rucks, only for Noakes to badly miscue the penalty attempt.

Irish did extend their lead 11 minutes before half-time when Falcons prop Rob Vickers was adjudged to have collapsed a scrum and Noakes' penalty sailed straight through the uprights.

The Falcons thought they were on the scoreboard four minutes later when Ojo failed to deal with a grubber kick through, however Chris Harris could not quite get downward pressure on the ball.

The away side had the opportunity to close the gap to three points five minutes before half-time when the Exiles strayed offside at a line-out, but Craig Willis' kick was just wide of the posts from 35 metres out.

The second half started with a bang as Lewington rose above Harris to collect substitute Geraghty's restart and he ran into the corner unopposed to touch down. The same player then added the extras from out wide.

Geraghty then hung up the high ball to Ojo, and despite the best attentions of Simon Hammersley, Irish's leading all-time try scorer managed to get the ball down. Geraghty made no mistake with the extras to put his side 20 points ahead.

Falcons registered their first points in the 55th minute after a sustained period of pressure deep in Irish's 22, when Latu broke off the end of a driving maul and barged his way over. However, Willis failed with his conversion attempt.

David Paice was sent to the sin-bin on the hour mark for a high tackle and and Goode kicked the simple resulting penalty.

Watson scored his first Premiership try of the season six minutes later when he got on the end of a Hammersley kick through.

Goode's conversion sailed through the uprights but, despite late heavy pressure, the Falcons could only take away the losing bonus point.

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