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The pinnacle, focus and point of the season came to Madejski Stadium on Wednesday night. Having dropped from rugby's top-flight for the first time Irish built their season around 4 games. The Semi-finals home and away followed by the pair of finals.
Doncaster finally show-up
After watching Yorkshire Carnegie’s home leg of the other semi on Sky the previous night, judging it a limitation exercise by the home side, I was hoping that Irish would put in a solid performance to match the away leg they played against Doncaster the week before. The conditions were pretty fair, the team was the same as last week and the crowd although not as big as I was hoping for, seemed to be made up of die hard and enthusiastic supporters.
As the season closes it's been a bit of a hard time for London Irish. Ospreys had already taken away the chance of a perfect season in the British and Irish Cup and then Jersey used their home advantage to deservedly take the Exiles unbeaten Championship record. Were the wheels coming off at the time when Irish were looking to accelerate back into the Premiership?
The people of Jersey are a fierce lot, they are fiercely proud of their Island, they are fiercely proud of their Rugby Team and fiercely polite, really the nicest crowd you could ever meet. When we arrived in the main port of St Hellier on the Friday evening, every bar was full of London Irish supporters, the next day there were even more, milling, drinking, taking in the sun. We took a packed bus up to the ground, although not a long distance, the roads are understandably slower because of the politeness of the road users, which made me think that all the vehicles probably have no horns fitted, as they are not needed.
First-half fireworks to celebrate St Patricks
My first London Irish Game was a St Patricks party so it’s a fixture that I have a soft spot for. Of course this year it was also the fixture that, if won, would guarantee the Exiles top spot in the league. Fair to say then that the team were expected to come out all guns blazing.
Irish seal semi-final place in British & Irish Cup
Irish seal semi-final place in British & Irish Cup with victory over YorkshireLondon Irish beat Yorkshire Carnegie for a second time in a week with plenty of younger squad members on show for both sides. The 34-14 win sees Irish progress into the semi-final of the B&I Cup where they will play Jersey Reds at the Madjeski on Sunday 2nd April.
The Battle of the Exiles
I’ve not been coming to London Irish games for long (less than a year in fact) so the trip to the Madejski is still one that comes with a tinge of excitement. After my morning coffee my wife and I piled into the car for the short trip to Reading from down on the coast, buoyed by the score the boys racked up in their last game.
Are we nearly there yet?
A chilly day in what has been a warm winter saw Nottingham bring their rugby to the Madejski. With Irish falling to Ospreys in the British & Irish Cup and then mis-firing against a plucky Ealing Trailfinders team you couldn't help but wonder if this was going to be the first home loss (and, indeed, first loss in the Championship) for the Exiles.
Bell saves the day, with late penalty!
After a couple of weeks of B&I Cup action it was back to the serious stuff, The Championship. This week’s opponents were Ealing who've been flying high over the last couple of months and were currently in 4th place. It promised to be a competitive match, and with most of our first choice starts rested and refreshed since New Year ’s Eve, confidence among all our fans were high.
You can't win 'em all
London Irish's winning streak comes to an end. A team filled largely with youngsters were faced by a resolute and dogged team in Osprey's Premiership Select, who refused to be beaten. With 10 minutes on the clock (I guess, difficult to tell this season!) and over points up, the Osprey's came out fighting and took the win.