Everitt salvages a point as Irish leave it late again

London Irish 15 Harlequins 15
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Last minute drama is becoming something of a habit for London Irish. In their last two matches, both against Bath, they have seen a winning kick tugged the wrong side of the posts by the wind and been robbed by an opposition kick.

Whether Irish can be said to have broken the run yesterday is debatable. They were a canvas in front as they entered the 80th minute of an ordinary match when the Harlequins flanker Pat Sanderson broke away in midfield and slung out a wonderful long pass to an Irishman.

In this case the Irishman was wearing Quins colours. Simon Keogh was originally brought over from Dublin as cover at scrum-half, but he has revealed a serious turn of speed and a propensity to score tries, and Sanderson's cut-out pass off his left hand gave the winger a straightforward task of cruising round the outside and touching down for his seventh Premiership try of the season.

Unfortunately for Quins the Exiles are used to these late, late shows and, true to form, fly-half Barry Everitt stepped up in the fourth minute of stoppage time to knock over his fifth penalty. But it was a close run thing.

It had been yet another of Quins' Irishmen who had scored their first try, early in the second half. Scrum-half Ben Willis may speak with a New Zealand accent but he has Celtic ancestry, and it was he who scored, darting through a convenient gap from a scrum.

If only the fly-half Andy Dunne had managed to land that awkward conversion and the two long-range penalties that followed. The first penalty hit the right hand upright from 45 metres out, the second brushed the wrong side of the left hand post from 42 metres. Overall, though, Dunne, another Irishman, did enough to suggest that he has plenty to offer.

The Exiles' No 8 has an Irish name, but Phil Murphy is a Canadian. He gave an immense display of power, but sadly there were too many errors for Irish to take advantage of the ground Murphy made.

Irish relief at the draw was tempered by the front row crisis that erupted in the sixth minute, when both props had to be helped off the pitch. Rob Hardwick was knocked out, Neal Hatley injured an ankle.

After an hour things got even worse when hooker Naka Drotske aggravated a calf strain and his departure reduced all scrums thereafter to uncontested affairs, which actually served to help Irish a little, giving them a steady base from which to work.

London Irish: Penalties Everitt 5. Harlequins: Tries Willis, Keogh Conversion Dunne Penalty Dunne.

London Irish: M Horak; P Sackey, G Appleford, N Mordt, J Bishop; B Everitt, D Edwards; N Hatley (A Flavin 6), N Drotske (K Roche 63), R Hardwick (D Wheatley 6), R Strudwick (capt), R Casey, D Danaher, P Murphy, K Dawson (P Gustard 72).

Harlequins: G Duffy; S Keogh, W Greenwood, M Deane, U Monye (R Jewell 69); A Dunne, B Willis; M Worsley, T Fuga, J Dawson (C Jones 63), S Miall, J Evans (B Davison 66), P Sanderson, T Diprose, A Vos (capt).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire)