Armitage ponders move after Irish squeak home

London Irish 21 Sale 19

The Madejski Stadium

A tenacious battle between two clubs bubbling just under the Premiership's play-off places ended with recriminations against the referee and intrigue over the future of London Irish's England full-back, Delon Armitage.

The lead changed hands six times in the second half, but finished in Irish's favour when Adrian Jarvis kicked a 76th-minute penalty from about 30 metres' distance on the diagonal. Jarvis, formerly of Harlequins, Bristol and Leeds, is not Irish's regular kicker – Tom Homer, the first choice, had been substituted with a tweaked groin just after the hour – but the fly-half had already shown his nerve with a 40-metre kick in the 66th minute when there were shouts not a million miles away from the home coaches' seats to give the honour to centre, Steve Shingler.

This is the same Shingler whose international eligibility is being wrangled over by Wales and Scotland, with the International Rugby Board due to rule on it this week. But there were more immediate arguments over the scrum offence that gave Jarvis his second shot at the posts, after Nick Macleod's fourth penalty had put Sale 19-18 up.

Irish had established a good nudge on the loosehead side occupied by their England international Alex Corbisiero to force the Sale scrum to retreat and be skewed clockwise. The referee Wayne Barnes's arm rocketed skywards: a decision the home head coach Toby Booth saw as quite correct. "You can clearly see we were going forward and Sale walked round," said Booth. "You reward a dominant scrum."

But Booth's opposite number, the Sale executive director of sport (soon to be chief executive) Steve Diamond could not have disagreed more. "The wheel went out of the Premiership game 10 years ago," said Diamond. "It should have been a reset not a penalty." He then accused Barnes, one of the world's highest-ranked officials, of turning up late (50 minutes before kick-off) and being "flustered for some reason, maybe with the traffic... He certainly didn't referee to our liking."

Diamond, a former hooker, did however agree with Barnes's ruling of a yellow card (no more) for David Paice's tackle on Andy Powell after 49 minutes. Powell was upended but crucially Paice, the Irish hooker, appeared to keep hold of the No.8 as Powell landed on his arm and back. The last thing Irish needed, given their long list of injuries, was to be any more short-handed but they survived Paice's absence no worse for wear on the scoreboard, with Macleod and Homer kicking a penalty each in that 10 minutes though Homer had also suffered his third miss.

During the opening 10 minutes there was only one side in it and they weren't wearing green. With Richie Vernon punching up the middle, Sale had a try by Rob Miller and a conversion and penalty by Macleod to lead 10-0.

There were seven Welshmen on the field though the most authentically Welsh name belonged to the former All Black forward Bryn Evans whose try converted by Homer on 11 minutes established a long period of London Irish dominance. Darren Allinson's tap-and-go was held, but Armitage organised the recycling and fed Jarvis whose pass was moved on by Shingler to Evans. Amid the cosmopolitan personnel – we even had the Premiership's first Moldovan, Vadim Cobilas, Sale's tighthead replacement – Armitage showed why he is arguably England's finest full-back talent.

But after four disciplinary bans in 2011, and with a reported offer from Toulon to move to France next season, he was said by Booth to be viewing his inclusion or otherwise in the England squad this Wednesday as a sign of whether to stay or go.

Armitage's class was needed with the backs Dan Bowden, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Jonathan Joseph, Joe Ansbro and Shontayne Hape all missing for Irish. The forwards were in better nick and a Sale scrum conceded a turnover after 23 minutes that ended with Shingler's deft grubber in behind Tom Brady for Irish's second try by Topsy Ojo.

Macleod's final penalty came when Homer's replacement Marland Yarde flew into a tackle and was pinned on the wrong side. But Jarvis took the lead back and Irish finished with Yarde timing a blitzing tackle on Miller just right, and a rip of the ball by Evans.

Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Evans, Ojo; Conversion: Homer; Penalties: Homer, Jarvis 2.

Sale Sharks: Try: Miller; Conversion: Macleod; Penalties: Macleod 4.

London Irish: D Armitage; T Ojo (A Thompstone, 77), J Spratt, S Shingler, T Homer (M Yarde, 61); A Jarvis, D Allinson; C Dermody (capt, A Corbisiero, 61), D Paice, P Ion (F Rautenbach, 61), N Kennedy (B Casey, 77), M Garvey, B Evans, J Gibson (D Sisi, 17), A Gray (J Buckland, 58-59).

Sale: R Miller; T Brady, J Leota, S Tuitupou (capt), J Tuculet; N Macleod, D Peel (C Willis, 72); A Dickinson, M Jones, T Buckley (V Cobilas, 55), F McKenzie, J Gaskell (K Myall, 47), R Vernon, O Auva'a, A Powell (M Easter, 59).

Referee: W Barnes (London).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living