Exiles ready to ration outings after Armitage returns in style

London Irish 34 Brive 13
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Toby Booth, the London Irish head coach, claims he will "drip-feed" Delon Armitage back into first-team action but that will be easier said than done. "I'm going to be knocking at his door because I want to fire and be No 15 for London Irish again," Armitage said, after coming off the bench to great effect against Brive on Saturday.

With a victory safely in the bag, Irish were running around like headless chickens in the final quarter looking for a fourth try that would earn them the bonus point and keep them top of Pool Six above Leinster.

Armitage, back in the squad after three months out with a shoulder injury, was kicking his heels among the substitutes but was thrown on by Booth with 14 minutes remaining. Looking like he had never been away, the England full-back picked his moment perfectly, cutting in from the left flank with only seconds left, jinking past a couple of tacklers and coasting over under the posts.

Armitage was sidelined for all three of England's November Test matches but he has come back three weeks sooner than expected. His return could be the fillip the Exiles need as they look to stay on course for an unlikely Heineken Cup-Guinness Premiership double. "I could only have dreamt about a try like that," Armitage said. "We were looking at the time and we could see the clock ticking down and I was thinking, "When's he [Booth] going to put me on? I really want to get on'."

Tom Homer took his tally to three tries in two matches with a well-taken score in the 10th minute. Another try, by Seilala Mapusua, and some flawless kicking by Chris Malone put Irish 20-6 up at the break and it was then just a question of the bonus point. Elvis Seveali'i and Armitage's last-gasp salvo saw to that.

London Irish: Tries Homer, Mapusua, Seveali'i, D Armitage; Conversions Malone 3, Lamb; Penalties Malone 2. Brive: Try Namy; Conversion Orquera; Penalties Orquera 2.

London Irish: P Hewat; T Homer, E Seveali'i (J Lennard, 70), S Mapusua, J Rudd (D Armitage, 66); C Malone (R Lamb, 63), A Lalanne; C Dermody (F Rautenbach, 69), D Paice (D Coetzee, 60), P Ion (D Murphy, 52), N Kennedy, B Casey (capt), R Thorpe, C Hala'ufia (G Stowers, 52), S Armitage (K Roche, 63).

Brive: N Jeanjean (S Spedding, 55); R Cooke, J Noon (H Agulla, 64), L Mackey, G Namy; L Orquera, J-B Pejoine (S Perry, 41); D Khinchagishvili (P Henn, 40), S Thompson, S Zimmermann (P Barnard, 13), R Uys, D Browne (T Dubarry, 64), V Forgues, F Domingo, S Azoulai (capt).

Referee: J Jones (WRU).