Northampton maintain their good run of form with easy win over London Irish

London Irish 25 Northampton 40: Saints had wrapped-up the bonus point by the 32nd minute but took their foot off the gas in the second half

Duncan Bech
Sunday 24 September 2017 19:15
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Northampton secured their bonus point before half-time
Northampton secured their bonus point before half-time

London Irish gave supporters little to celebrate on their first appearance of the season at the Madejski Stadium after falling to a 40-25 Aviva Premiership defeat to Northampton.

Saints had wrapped-up the bonus point by the 32nd minute after revelling in some feeble defence that enabled former Australia centre Rob Horne to cross twice, but - having coasted out of reach - they took their foot off the pedal to make heavy weather of the second half.

The Exiles grew in confidence as they sensed their opponents' vulnerability and the second-half try count finished 3-2 in their favour, although they were assisted by some weak tackling in a low-quality Premiership match.

Since accounting for Harlequins on the opening weekend, Irish have leaked 111 points over three matches and for all the spirit evident later in the game, a season-long battle against relegation awaits.

Northampton had amassed a commanding 14-0 lead inside the opening six minutes alone, Nic Groom finishing a well-executed attack launched by George North before Horne showed strength to crash over for a soft try.

Irish showed character in their response, creating a chance for Blair Cowan that was ruined by Aseli Tikoirotuma's poor final pass, but a penalty from Tommy Bell nudged them off the mark.

Having regrouped manfully, however, the Exiles' defence fell apart all too easily for a third time when a lack of punch in midfield enabled Horne to cross again.

Irish were no match for their more composed opponents

Route one was the source of the next touchdown when a line-out drive ended with Mikey Haywood being shoved over, delivering the try-scoring bonus point.

Bell kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time but - given the interval score was 26-6 - the decision to go for goal seemed a strange one with so much ground to make up.

It became Northampton's turn to fall off routine tackles when wing Alex Lewington bounced and span his way to the whitewash, but any hint of a fightback was quickly dispelled after North strolled in to complete an attack that began in the 22.

Luther Burrell departed after taking a heavy knock to his leg and Saints were becoming increasingly ragged, suffering amid their own complacency and the spirited resistance offered by outgunned opponents.

Bell ran in their second try, a line-out providing the initial platform before Cowan's long pass enabled a clear overlap to be exploited.

A big tackle from North knocked the ball loose, allowing Jacobus Reinach to scoop up and run the length of the field, but Irish had the final word when Joshua McNally found a path through heavy traffic to touch down.

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