London Irish 25-28 Leicester Tigers (8th January 2006)

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London Irish 25-28 Leicester Tigers (8th January 2006)

by SwanieBoy on Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:06 pm

Apologies in advance, but despite my best efforts to enable HTML in my profile it refused to let me select html as n option and all my careful formatting has turned out in plain text! Very annoying :x So please find my account of today's encounter between LI and the Tigers.

A Close Encounter

Against the mighty Leicester Tigers, a quality London Irish side put up a very credible performance only to miss out narrowly at the last gasp. Leicester fielded a very strong side complete with all their international absentees from the last encounter some six weeks ago, which was very much a one-sided affair to the benefit of the Tigers. No so today as London Irish ran them all the way and were very unlucky not to secure a draw at the very worst.

Injury Woes:
Irish were bereft of quite a few first choice players through injury, most noticeably Nick the ball Kennedy, Riki Flutey, Olivier Magne, Dominic Feau’nati, Paul Franze, Darren Edwards, Robbie Russell, Ben Willis, Richard Skuse and the imperious Mike Catt. Nevertheless, a great opportunity arose for the exciting academy player Topsy Ojo. I felt however we fielded a very strong team capable of giving Leicester a good run. An obvious sign of our strength in depth to be able to do this today!

The Stage is set:
On a cool and damp day with light intermittent drizzle and a cold front, the pitch in the usual excellent condition (again credit to the ground staff at LI/Reading), the stage was set for an exciting battle between 3rd and 5th placed Guinness Premiership contenders. Circa 11,000 fans (I missed the quick glimpse of the match day attendance on the screen and thought I heard 11,096) turned up to witness a formidable test for the Irish with a Leicester side at full strength.

Highlights of the Game:
Leicester began with an Andy Goode special, hanging high for a while and an instant test for the very capable Michael Horak. Horak collected the hanging kick off with style and was unfortunately left in splendid isolation with no immediate support for the catcher, which predictably resulted in a penalty for hanging on. This was right in front of the LI posts about 15 metres out. The Ref Dave Pearson stamped his authority on the game from the first minute. Indeed Pearson was to prove very consistent throughout the game except for a few instances, but he is human after all and gave a very good account of himself in general.

Sadly for Horak this was to be a recurring nightmare for him, whereby he fielded some great testing kicks on numerous occasions only to be left isolated without immediate support and so Irish were turned over many times. In fact it looked like we were turned inside out a few times when simple basic support and protection (legal of course!) would have secured timely ball for us.

Irish were strong in the forwards and gave very little ground to the Leicester pack. Our backs were good in phases but we lacked width and on the few occasions we made it out wide we had a few exciting runs which demonstrated the pace we have on the wings and in the backs in general. One of many runs from Leguizamon prompted a Bath supporter to inquire “Wow who is your number 8?” to which I replied and agreed with his summation of Juan’s agility and speed. The forwards demonstrated some great mauling and in one instance had a rolling maul from near our own 22 metre line which then went past the half way line.

Topsy had a great run which took him very close to scoring only to be denied at the last few metres. The best move of the day for me was Paul Gustard’s fantastic 40+ metre solo effort from what I believe was a pass from Big Bob, who had a great game and was instrumental in a number of 50/50 balls coming our way.

19th minute and Graham Rowantree was yellow carded for dumping Irish Lock Kieron Roche before he returned to the playing surface from a lineout. Dangerous and deserved a sin-binning.

24th minute and Michael Horak was sin binned for a late tackle on Ben Kay and left ref Dave Pearson with no option but to proffer a yellow card.

Kicking out of hand was poor from both sides at times and I felt we kicked away too much possession with poor misguided kicks that were cleared all too easily by Tigers from within their own 22. We kicked away ball when we should have passed it faster out wide and given our fast boys a chance to shine. Some good box kicking from Hodgson and Healy kept the game flowing but some loose handling and kicking let the standard down a bit at times with some aerial ping pong at times.

Barry made a great effort at the death to try and secure us a draw, but it dipped just below the cross bar. It was a long range effort from close to the touchline and it was a shame it didn’t make it as Barry was very reliable and earned his Man of the Match award, although I felt Michael Horak should have had it with his excellent fielding today which was nothing short of heroic at times.

All in all a great contest and we were very unlucky not to get more out of it, but it shows how far we’ve come to be able to field a team with some ten of our first choice players missing through injury and I believe people are sitting up and looking closely at us now. Long may this continue and hats off to coaching staff and players alike at London Irish for the huge turnaround this club has made this season in such a comparatively short time.

Bring back Oxon Rob for his incredibly detailed and insightful accounts … Hats off to him as well!

Table Positions:
It appears we remain 5th whilst Leicester remain 3rd with Gloucester in 4th with Worcester one point behind us.

Kicking Materclass:
Whilst Barry Everitt played and kicked well, it was a kicking masterclass from the ever accurate Andy Goode. He kicked 23 of Leicester’s points. Barry was very unlucky not to kick a late injury time equaliser which dipped just below the cross bar.

Match Sequence Summary:

1st minute Tiger Penalty Kick by Andy Goode (0-3).
12th minute LI Drop kick Barry Everitt (3-3).
15th minute Tiger Penalty kicked by Andy Goode (3-6).
19th minute Tiger Substitution Tom Varndell on for Dan Hipkiss
19th minute Tiger Yellow Card Graham Rowantree.
20th minute LI Try by Paul Gustard (8-6).
20th minute LI Conversion by Barry Everitt (10-6).
24th minute LI Yellow Card Michael Horak.
27th minute Tiger Try by Sam Vesty (10-14).
27th minute Tiger conversion by Andy Goode (10-16).
31st minute Penalty Kick by Barry Everitt (13-16).
33rd minute Tiger Penalty Kick by Andy Goode (13-19).
39th minute Tiger Substitution Luke Abraham on for Brett Deacon.
40th minute LI Drop Kick by Barry Everitt (16-19)
40th minute Tiger Substitution Leo Cullen on for Louis Deacon.

Half Time Score : London Irish 16 – Leicester Tigers 19

43rd minute Tiger Penalty by Andy Goode [16-22].
47th minute LI Penalty by Barry Everitt [19-22].
49th minute Tiger Penalty by Andy Goode [19-25].
50th minute LI Substitution Phil Murphy on for Declan Danaher.
61st minute Tiger Penalty by Andy Goode [19-28].
61st minute Tiger Substitution Harry Ellis on for Austin Healy.
68th minute LI Penalty by Barry Everitt [22-28].
73rd minute LI Penalty by Barry Everitt [25-28].

Team Lineups:
London Irish: 15. Michael Horak 14. Delon Armitage 13. Rodd Penney 12. Nils Mordt 11. Topsy Ojo 10. Barry Everitt 9. Paul Hodgson 1. Neal Hatley 2. Danie Coetzee 3. Faan Rautenbach 4. Bob Casey 5. Kieran Roche 6. Paul Gustard 7. Declan Danaher 8. Juan Manuel Leguizamon
LI Replacements: 16. Michael Collins 17. Adrian Flavin 18. Ryan Strudwick 19. Phil Murphy 20. Shane Geraghty 21. James Storey 22. Ross Laidlaw

Leicester Tigers: 15. Sam Vesty 14. Leon Lloyd 13. Ollie Smith 12. Dan Hipkiss 11. Geordan Murphy 10. Andy Goode 9. Austin Healey 1. Graham Rowntree 2. George Chuter 3. Julian White 4. Louis Deacon 5. Ben Kay 6. Brett Deacon 7. Shane Jennings 8. Martin Corry
Tiger Replacements: 16. James Buckland 17. Darren Morris 18. Leo Cullen 19. Luke Abraham 20. Harry Ellis 21. Ross Broadfoot 22. Tom Varndell

Match Officials:
Referee: Dave Pearson (RFU), Touch Judge: Steve Savage (RFU),
Touch Judge: Roger Baileff, Fourth Official: John Dennison (RFU)

Attendance: circa 11,000 (I think I heard 11,096)

Reports from the Media:

Sporting Life Report: ... tlead.html

Evening Echo Report: ... &n=3578192

BBC Report: ... 579906.stm

Planet Rugby Report:
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by JamesC on Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:27 pm

'twas indeed 11,096 or quite a lot more than Sarries v Gloucester at V Rd and more than Wasps at HW.

Good report - thanks
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by dom_pedro on Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:39 pm

Many thanks for the report SwanieBoy. Sorry about the HTML as it is disabled across the board.
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by SwanieBoy on Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:41 pm

No probs Dom_Pedro, I can understand why!
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by OxonRob on Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:36 pm

Great report, Dave. Many many thanks for taking it on.
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