The London Irish director of rugby, Brian Smith, refused to blame any refereeing decisions for his side’s 20-15 home defeat at the hands of Leicester, which sent the visitors into the Premiership play-off places.
Logovi’i Mulipola’s try for Leicester was awarded on the advice of the television match official and late on the Exiles crossed the line for what could have been a winning try only for the TMO to rule it out for an earlier knock-on.
Smith said: “We weren’t at our best and that’s the reason why we lost. If we had played to our best I might have been jumping up and down about a couple of matters. From the screen I saw, George Skivington seemed to get under Mulipola and I didn’t think it was a knock-on at the end as there was an involvement from their player.”
Irish had to rely on penalties with four successes from James O’Connor and one from Ian Humphreys. However, O’Connor missed with three crucial kicks, before being replaced as kicker by Humphreys. Leicester were always the more likely try-scorers, picking up three through Ben Youngs, Mulipola and Vereniki Goneva, with Owen Williams adding a penalty and conversion.
Two powerfully driven tries from front-row forwards James Johnston and Schalk Brits enabled second-placed Saracens to overcome a stiff challenge from Exeter Chiefs. Both were converted by Charlie Hodgson, who also kicked three second-half penalties in the 23-10 home win. Exeter, who had taken the lead with a try by centre Ian Whitten, suffered their fifth successive Premiership defeat.
Two first-half tries from full-back James Wilson set league leaders Northampton on the road to a 22-16 victory at struggling Newcastle. Newcastle snatched a losing bonus point with a Noah Cato try two minutes from time.