Saints are too strong for sorry London Irish

TRY GUY - Howard Packman dives in for his first try for Saints (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
TRY GUY - Howard Packman dives in for his first try for Saints (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

Saints claimed their second win at the Madejski Stadium in as many weeks as they smashed a sorry London Irish side 39-18 in the LV= Cup.

Howard Packman and Ethan Waller grabbed their first senior tries while all-action flanker Ben Nutley also got his name on the scoresheet.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Kiwi kicker Glenn Dickson added 24 points from the tee as Saints secured their second successive victory in the competition, following the win against Gloucester eight days earlier.

Irish were made to pay for a woeful first-half performance, which saw them go in at half-time 26-6 down, and failed to produce the fight they showed in the recent Aviva Premiership meeting between the sides.

The smattering of home fans had little to celebrate, with only second half scores from flanker Danny Kenny and No.8 Kieran Low providing them with any reason to smile.

But for Saints it was a fifth successive win in all competitions as their march towards trophies continued in emphatic fashion.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

The success was built on a steady start that saw Irish struggle to get out of their own half from the kick-off.

Dickson landed an early penalty with aplomb before Myles Dorrian, in for Shane Geraghty, who suffered an injury in the warm-up, missed the chance to level the scores.

Saints were winning the battle at the breakdown and Irish were struggling to stay on their feet.

That inability to maintain discipline almost cost them a further three points, but Dickson’s ambitious effort from near halfway just dropped short.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

The former Otago fly-half made no mistake with a much closer effort soon after, though, and Saints were getting up a head of steam.

Nutley was causing havoc with some strong running and Irish were cracking under the pressure, captain Declan Danaher being warned about his side’s persistent offending by referee Rhys Thomas.

Another penalty saw Dickson make it 9-0 and Saints’ stroll in the park became even more enjoyable as the impressive Nutley sprung from his own half and cleverly offloaded to Packman, who turned on the turbos and swallow dived over the line.

Dickson made it 16-0 with the simplest of conversions before Irish eventually put some pressure on the Saints line, only to be stopped by some strong last-ditch defending.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

It was soon 19-0 via another Dickson penalty, but Irish did respond through Dorrian after Alex Day was sent to the sin bin for holding back fellow scrum-half Darren Allinson as he tried to take a quick tap penalty.

Saints may have been down to 14 men, but it didn’t alter the flow of the game and another slick attacking move saw Waller, making his first Saints start, scoot round the side of the sloppy Irish defence to score.

Dickson made it 26-3 before Dorrian at least cut the gap slightly with a penalty before the break, but his side had a mountain the size of Everest to climb in the second half.

They began to scale it two minutes after the restart as Dorrian booted a kickable penalty to the corner and flanker Kenny profited from a strong drive from the forward pack.

Dorrian reduced the arrears to 14 points with the successful conversion and suddenly a side who had struggled badly in the first 40 minutes were sensing an unlikely comeback.

Dickson quelled some of the fires of belief as he landed his fifth successful penalty of the afternoon but they were raging again soon after as Low peeled off the back of a lineout drive to dot down.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Dorrian’s conversion attempt struck the left post and rebounded to safety, but Dickson made a better job of things at the other end, slotting a fine penalty out wide to put Saints 14 points up with 18 minutes to go.

The smattering of home supporters were doing their best to rally their team, but Nutley crushed any lingering hopes of a comeback as he waltzed through the home defence unchallenged.

Dickson made it 39-18 and with 14 minutes to go, Saints had their sights set on a second successive bonus-point win.

But try as they might, and despite Jimmy Stevens’ last-minute sin-binning, the away side couldn’t grab a fourth try their efforts merited.

Match facts

London Irish: Lewington; Fowlie, Armitage, Sa, Fenby; Dorrian, Allinson (Mulchrone 76); Parr (Harris 66), Mayhew (Stevens 76), Hagan (Halavatau 40), A Toolis, B Toolis, Danaher (c) (Kenny 39), Evans, Low (Lonergan 76).

Replacements not used: Palframan, Bliss.

Saints: Wilson (Olver 66); Packman (Skelcey 78), Stephenson, Waldouck (c), Collins; G Dickson, A Day (Glynn 60); E Waller (Denman 66), McMillan (Williams 66), Ma’afu (Mercey 57), Verbakel, C Day (Woolford 66), Nutley, Harrison (Clark 62), van Velze.

Referee: Rhys Thomas

Attendance: 5,792

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson