Smith elated after 'ding-dong' Irish victory

London Irish's director of rugby, Brian Smith spoke of his delight after his club's vital 29-16 success over Saracens, which put them five points ahead of bottom-placed Sale in the Premiership. "The boys really stepped to the plate. It was a very physical encounter and we were very strong in defence", Smith said. "It was a ding-dong battle and neither side were too far ahead in any area of the game."

Shane Geraghty scored the first try of the match in the 53rd minute. Geraghty knew he was in the starting line-up only hours before the game started, after Jonathan Joseph stubbed his toe in training. "I am especially pleased for Shane as he has skippered the team well in the past few weeks and responded brilliantly to the call-up," Smith said.

At the other end of the Premiership table, with both Harlequins and Saracens suffering defeats, Leicester rose to the top of the table with a comfortable 28-12 home win over London Welsh, with the visitors' head coach, Lyn Jones, furious with his side's first half performance.

"I think the first half was our worst half of rugby in the Premiership so far but we came back and showed what we were capable of," he said.

The champions, Harlequins, lost 17-16 to Wasps, ending their 12-match winning streak at The Stoop in all competitions. Christian Wade and Tom Varnell scored Wasps' tries.

Bath hammered Worcester 32-9 and Gloucester won 27-11 at Northampton in Saturday's other games – both between sides in the middle of the table.

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