Dawson's try vital as Irish feed off scraps

Leeds 11 London Irish 27
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The Independent Online

The standard may not have reached the dizzy heights Marshall and Magne are accustomed to, but they were nonetheless left with the knowledge that the Premiership is an unforgiving arena.

Another summer recruit, the Leeds centre Chris Jones, made an early impact with a strong burst that ended with Iain Balshaw sending Tom Biggs in at the corner.

But in an opening period in which moments of honest endeavour and inspiration vied with a litany of errors, it was the Tykes' mistakes that proved most significant.

Irish took full advantage as centre Rodd Penney burst through a lax defence to score. Gordon Ross put Leeds back in front with a 40th-minute penalty before Delon Armitage celebrated regaining the lead for the Exiles with an exuberant dive.

Irish's director of rugby Brian Smith sent props Michael Collins and Richard Skuse on and whether that was pre-planned or a reaction to an area in which Leeds had profited was open to question. But after Justin Bishop was worked into space for the score that gave his side an 11-point cushion 15 minutes after the break, Collins and Skuse were central to the rearguard action in the face of Leeds' pressure.

The two replacements dug in and held Leeds at bay and the Exiles ended the contest with the comfort of the flanker Kieron Dawson's late try and Everitt's conversion.

Irish's second row Bob Casey did his bit for his side and also for good sportsmanship, by asking the referee Sean Davey's to stop the clock while Tykes' flanker Richard Parks was being treated for a 29th-minute injury. At the time Irish were lining up for an assault on Leeds' line from a close-range line-out and Casey could have taken the option offered of playing on against a disadvantaged pack, so good on him.

Leeds Tykes: I Balshaw; A Snyman (T Stimpson, 50), C Jones, R de Marginy, T Biggs; G Ross, J Marshall; J Isaacson (M Cusack, 64), G Bulloch (R Rawlinson, 40), G Kerr, S Hooper (capt; C Murphy, 64), T Palmer, S Morgan, J Dunbar, R Parks.

London Irish: D Armitage; S Staniforth, RPenney, M Catt (capt), J Bishop, B Everitt, B Willis; N Hatley (M Collins, 40), R Russell, R Hardwick (R Skuse, 40), B Casey, K Roche, O Magne, P Murphy, K Dawson.

Referee: S Davey (Sussex).