Joseph try puts Exiles back on main street

London Irish 39 Sale 26

One of the more extraordinary finishes in the Premiership this season left London Irish, breathing heavily perhaps, back at the top. What seemed likely to be a pedestrian win at the Madejski Stadium suddenly turned into a magnificent scrap as Sale suddenly discovered themselves.

With 30 minutes to go, Irish may have been turning over in their minds how best to score the bonus-point try while resting some of their front-line troops. Then, within the space of 10 minutes, Sale scored 20 points and were on level terms, but still there was plenty of drama to come.

Ryan Lamb, so much more mature in his game management this season, kicked two more penalty goals and, as time ticked away, Irish were awarded a penalty. Still looking for the try bonus, they ran the ball and Sale were penalised yet again for not retreating 10 metres; but they forced a turnover penalty and, though deep in their own 22, decided to chase that elusive result three minutes into time added on.

They made ground but, on his own 22, Chris Jones forced a pass and collapsed to the ground in horror as it fell into the hands of Jamie Joseph, who gleefully ran in his second try and secured the point that keeps Irish noses ahead of Northampton. "If Chris had pulled the ball back and we'd got into space, we could have won by a point," Mike Brewer, Sale's head coach, said ruefully. "But I'm more concerned at the first-half period in which we didn't adhere to the plan.

"The team got a rocket at half-time [when Brewer replaced his entire back- row] but we have a lot of young, inexperienced players who sometimes rush things when they're under pressure, and in the end it cost us a [losing bonus] point."

But if the mark of a good team is their reaction to adversity, then Irish are a good team. Their line-out gives them one of the most solid platforms in the league, Lamb is kicking his goals and also scored the first try after Bob Casey charged down a kick from Paul Williams and good interplay by the forwards created pressure on the Sale line.

Before the interval Joseph crossed for a second after what was, in effect, an 85-metre move. Paul Hodgson's powers of harassment allowed Irish to kick clear from their own 22 and, when Casey won a line-out, they played patiently before Lamb's long pass freed Joseph. When George Stowers hammered over early in the second half, the match seemed dead as a contest. Only Sale did not agree; from a free kick in their own 22 they found space down the left and Ben Cohen sent Anitelea Tuilagi roaring home from 45 metres.

Two penalties by Nick Macleod reduced the deficit further and then a delightful pass from Williams gave Neil Briggs the chance to send Cohen away for Sale's second try. It amounted to a considerable slap in the face for the Exiles but they responded well.

Scorers: London Irish: Tries Lamb, Joseph 2, Stowers. Conversions Lamb 2. Penalties Lamb 4. Dropped goal Lamb. Sale: Tries Tuilagi, Cohen. Conversions Macleod 2. Penalties Macleod 4.

London Irish: T Homer (C Malone, 27); T Ojo, S Mapusua (E Seveali'i, 52), D Bowden, J Joseph; R Lamb, P Hodgson; C Dermody (capt; F Rautenbach, 50), D Paice (J Buckland, 57), A Corbisiero (D Murphy, 57), N Kennedy, R Casey, K Roche (M Garvey, 57), C Hala'ufia, G Stowers (S Armitage, 65).

Sale: P Williams; T Brady, C Bell, A Tuilagi (R Miller, 57), B Cohen; N Macleod, W Cliff; A Croall (L Imiolek, 41), N Briggs (capt), K Wihongi (H Thomas, 69), W Lewaravu (C Jones, 57), N Rouse, C Fearns (C Brightwell, 41), D Seymour (M Jones, 41), K Ormsby (S Koyamaibole, 41).

Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones