London Irish 41 Newport-Gwent 24: Thorpe the invisible man has Exiles on brink of last eight

Following his performance against Sale the previous week, a virtuoso effort that earned him the man of the match award, Shane Geraghty was again singled out for the honour here, although nobody was quite sure why. It must be a celebrity thing. People have seen and read about England's exciting young prospect and the same cannot be said for Richard Thorpe.

Up against the Wales No 8 and the Newport captain Michael Owen, Thorpe, a graduate of the London Irish academy, scored three of his side's six tries and it would have been four had he not unselfishly offloaded close to the line.

"How he wasn't made man of the match is a mystery," said Toby Booth, the Irish forwards coach. "I can only assume that the decision was made by Shane's mum. We are spoilt for choice for No 8s and Richard has been a bit-part player for us, but he's fronted up, he's really tough and he's a good ball carrier."

He might have added that he is an exceptional try scorer. Thorpe scored the first try of the match after 13 minutes when he took a pass on the right wing, cut inside and smashed his way through four defenders, none of whom produced a copybook tackle. At that point it was clear that Newport, whose squad was missing no fewer than 15 injured players, were there for the taking and sure enough the Irish had gained a four-try bonus point before half-time, just as they had against the same opponents in the away first leg in November.

It has left them top of Pool One, which is more of an oasis than a group of death, on 19 points and within touching distance of their first appearance in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup. "If we reach the quarter-finals it will have a massive knock-on effect throughout the club," Booth said.

However, the Irish are seeking something more than mere qualification – they want a home tie to draw a big crowd to the Madejski, a ground they like so much they have signed up to play there until at least 2026. By then Geraghty will have retired.

A natural stand-off, here he played centre and while Paul Emerick was in the sin bin he scored a brilliant individual try. Geraghty has not made England's elite squad but is in the second string Saxons.

"He's timing his run pretty well," said Brian Smith, Irish's director of rugby. "I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some Six Nations action."

Next weekend they conclude the group stage with a visit to Treviso, where Smith is expecting a "dogfight." He went so far as to suggest that the Italian club will doctor the pitch by excessive watering and that the "touchlines will come in a little bit". Surely not.

If Newport had no answer to the power of Thorpe, they were equally bemused by the pace and strength of the scrum-half Peter Richards, who repeatedly tore them apart. They were glad to see the back of him when he was rested after only 48 minutes, by which stage the Irish were 34-7 in front.

It was a stupid substitution. Newport, who had been given a roasting at half-time by their coach, Paul Turner, scored three tries in the next 16 minutes through Ben Daly, Gareth Wyatt and Ceri Sweeney. It not only brought them a bonus point of their own but, with the score at 34-24, the Irish were close to meltdown. It was Thorpe's third try five minutes from time that halted the process of evaporation.

The replacement of Richards was not the only odd decision. No sooner had Owen brilliantly created Daly's try than he was forced to troop off, fuming. "It's the name of the game," Turner said. "I wasn't very happy either. If you don't get a handle on players like Richards and Geraghty you're going to get punished." Funnily enough, he did not mention Thorpe.

London Irish: Tries Thorpe 3, Hickey, Geraghty, Hewat; Conversions Hewat 3, Hickey; Penalties Hewat. Newport-Gwent Dragons: Tries Fussell, Daly, Wyatt, Sweeney; Conversions Smith, Sweeney.

London Irish: P Hewat; T Ojo (T De Vedia, 40), D Armitage (P Murphy, 70), S Geraghty, S Tagicakibau; E Hickey, P Richards (P Hodgson, 48); C Dermody (D Murphy, 21), D Paice (D Coetzee, 55), T Lea'aetoa, N Kennedy (J Hudson, 59), B Casey, D Danaher, S Armitage, R Thorpe.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: A Thomas; R Mustoe (G Wyatt, 55), P Emerick, A Smith (P Dollman, 61), R Fussell; C Sweeney, W Evans (A Walker, 70); A Black, B Daly (K Crawford, 72), G Robinson (H Gustafson, 52), A Hall, P Sidoli, J Bearman, J Harris, M Owen (L Evans, 51).

Referee: P Allan (Scotland).

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower