Bath 17 London Irish 21: Smith looks to league to clarify tackle regulations

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The Independent Online

Brian Smith, the London Irish director of rugby, has called on rugby union's law-makers to adopt rugby league's rules on dangerous tackles.

A dramatic tackle by the Irish hooker David Paice on Isaac Feau'nati left the Bath No 8 on the ground and the crowd calling for a red card in the belief that it was a spear tackle, which is outlawed. But the referee, Roy Maybank, after consultation with one of his touch judges, showed Paice a yellow card - one of five in a penalty-strewn match - clearly demonstrating that he did not deem it to have been a spear tackle.

Smith backed Maybank's judgment. "It wasn't a dangerous tackle. It was quite spectacular, but not dangerous. It is a grey area. Zak was lifted, but that is legal in union, and he ended up on the small of his back, not on his head or shoulders as in previous spear tackles this season. And he went on to finish the game.

"In league, lifting a player above waist height is illegal and players don't do it. I think union's law-makers should take a look at league's tackle law and introduce it into our game. It would get rid of the grey area and would be a step forward."

According to Feau'nati, however, he did not land on his back. "He picked up one of my legs," he said, "then picked up the second one and I realised, 'oh, mate, I've got to go along with it'.

"I landed on my neck. It could have gone either way. My neck was stiff and it hurt afterwards, but it was one of those things."

Irish deserved to beat a Bath side who lacked discipline and purpose. Even when Irish were reduced to 13 men when a brawl broke out after Paice's tackle, the West Country side were unable to prise apart the visitors' superb defence.

Bath still stayed in front until the first minute of added time, when they lost a line-out and allowed Juan Leguizamon to clinch victory for the Irish. Ten minutes earlier Irish had driven from their own line-out for the hooker Robbie Russell to score the first try.

With their fly-half Barry Everitt knocking over three penalties and converting Russell's try, it ensured that Irish recorded their third successive Premiership win over Bath.

Bath: Try Feau'nati; Penalties Malone 4. London Irish: Tries Russell, Leguizamon; Conversion Everitt; Penalties Everitt 2.

Bath: N Abendanon (T Cheeseman, 59); M Stephenson, S Berne, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, D Bory (J Maddock, 54); C Malone, N Walshe; D Barnes, R Hawkins (D Ward, 80), D Flatman, P Short, R Fidler (J Faamatuainu, 62), A Beattie (capt), J Scaysbrook (C Goodman, 74), I Feau'nati (L Ovens, 65-74).

London Irish: D Armitage; D Shabbo (R Skuse, 24-33), S Mapusua, R Flutey, S Tagicakibau; B Everitt, P Hodgson (R Rees, 80); N Hatley (capt; Skuse 79), D Paice, T Leaíaetoa (R Skuse, 63-79), K Roche, J Hudson (B Casey, 66), A McCullen (R Russell, 24-33), O Magne (D Danaher 48), P Murphy (J Leguizamon, 66).

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).

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