RUGBY UNION: Exiles left in cold by Sheasby's late score

RUGBY UNION: London Irish 16 Harlequins 17
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THEY LEFT it late but a superhuman effort from the tiring Harlequin forwards robbed London Irish in injury time of a scrappy and unattractive Allied Dunbar Premiership match.

The dramatic try came as a direct result of Irish indiscipline. Quins opted to kick for the line-out, caught the ball and drove No 8 Chris Sheasby over under a tangle of desperate bodies. There was just a point in it and barely a minute left of additional time. Irish gave it a go but Conor O'Shea's attempted drop goal was woefully wide and the whistle wound up the action.

The alarms had been ringing for Irish from the start. Although they appeared to have woken up midway through the first half there were still too many dozy errors and knock-ons to suggest they would find things easy.

By that point Harlequins had stolen into the lead - albeit only by a couple of Rob Liley penalties, but there was a principle here. The Exiles were at home and were in a far superior position in the Allied Dunbar Premiership table to their groundshare partners.

Typically, Irish's captain, O'Shea, was the one who had to bring his men out of their trance. Although their first decent passage of play led only to a second penalty for Jarrod Cunningham it levelled the scores and fired up the Exiles. Within a minute, Justin Bishop gathered a poor kick upfield by Daren O'Leary. The Ireland wing slung a long pass inside to the lurking O'Shea and the fullback split the defence with a brilliantly angled run, then combined superbly with Cunningham. As the wing hared over to the left, O'Shea meanwhile looped around him for the return pass before hammering over in the corner. Cunningham topped it off with the conversion then added a later penalty.

But Quins had shown a serious side to their game up front and gradually they asserted themselves. The forwards began to win some solid ball and they also defended well whenever the Exiles threatened their line.

Irish's half backs, Kevin Putt and Steve Bachop, were always looking to launch their threequarters in a series of tricky if at times over-complicated moves. Early in the game the complexity of one move was down solely to a string of crossovers for which the Exiles were duly penalised.

London Irish: Try O'Shea. Conversion Cunningham. Penalties Cunningham 3. Harlequins: Try Sheasby; Penalties Liley 4.

London Irish: C O'Shea (capt); J Bishop (M Horak, 76), B Whetstone, R Todd, J Cunningham; S Bachop, K Putt (S Hatley, 74); N Hatley, M Howe, K Fullman (S Halford, 70), R Strudwick, N Harvey, J Boer (A Mower, 70), M Gabey, K Dawson.

Harlequins: D O'Leary; J Keyter, P Mensah, W Carling (capt), M Dallow (G Rees, 74); R Liley, P Richards; J Leonard, C Ridgway, P Graham (K Nepia, 54), G Morgan, S White-Cooper (G Llewellyn, 80), R Jenkins, C Sheasby, P Sanderson.

Referee: C Rees (London).