London Irish 21 London Scottish 20
A match that began 10 minutes late - the crush to get to the Second Division promotion head-to-head forced the police to open the gates at Sunbury and let in around 1,000 fans without paying, costing London Irish some pounds 7,000 - was won late, with a kick almost at the death. In between there was passion and power and an atmosphere worthy of a cup final.
Clive Woodward, the London Irish coach, was shattered that his side, who had scored 39 tries in their previous 11 Courage league matches, failed to do so in front of a record 6,000-plus crowd. Gary Halpin, the captain who is on a season's sabbatical from international rugby while he attempts to steer his club back to the top, was less than pleased that the normally tough-tackling backs let in Scottish on three occasions.
Superb tries they were too. the Scottish full-back Nick Robinson, who had a fine game, helped himself to two of them, each time set up by his captain Simon Holmes, while Gavin Thompson scored the excellent third.
But to no avail. When the struggle is really on it is points that count, not necessarily tries, and the Irish had Michael Corcoran.
He was called to the bar by Halpin on eight occasions and cleared it on seven, which took the man once on the books of Chelsea and Crystal Palace to a formidable total of 207 points in the League this season.
Victory helped the Irish leapfrog Scottish into second place in the Second Division. They have a less arduous run-in. But it will be close.
Woodward said: "This is the year to get out of the Second Division. Next season it will be a nightmare with Newcastle and all their big signings, not to mention the sides that are relegated this year."
London Irish: Penalties Corcoran 7. London Scottish: Tries Robinson 2, Thompson; Conversion Stent; Penalty Stent.
London Irish: C O'Shea; M Corcoran, R Henderson (S Burns, 27), P Flood, J Bishop; O Cobbe, T Ewington; J Fitzpatrick, R Kellam, G Halpin (capt), C Hall, D Peters, P Irons, A Dougan, B Walsh.
London Scottish: N Robinson; G Thompson, F Harrold, R Eriksson, T Watson; I Stent, T Withers-Green; T Robinson, L Mair, P Burnell, A Nisbet, D Orr- Ewing, M Duthie, S Holmes (capt), D Jackson.
Referee: G P Hughes (Fareham).Reuse content