London Irish stun Saracens with famous away day upset

17:24 08 February 2014

Eamon Sheridan of London Irish takes on the Saracens defence. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Eamon Sheridan of London Irish takes on the Saracens defence. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

2014 Getty Images

Premiership: Saracens 13 London Irish 22

All good things must come to an end and London Irish provided one of the upsets of the season to do just that to Saracens’ proud unbeaten regular season record at Allianz Park.

Only Northampton had beaten the Men in Black at their new home - which celebrates its first anniversary next week - but that was in last term’s play-off semi-final. In the league, Sarries had been imperious and today was expected to be no different against an Exiles side that had only won three games all season.

Now Saints have a chance to leapfrog the Hendon outfit at the summit if they can see off Exeter in this evening’s kick-off.

But in a windy north London, Irish stung the hosts to come off better in a crazy first half that saw them on the back foot for large periods, before they restricted Sarries to one late Schalk Brits score in a frustrating second session for the hosts.

Saracens dominated possession and penalty count in the first half but only had Marcello Bosch’s try to show for their efforts. That had put his side 5-3 in the lead after a James O’Connor penalty from the halfway line had opened the scoring in the Exiles’ favour.

Once Matt Parr had barrelled over for his first ever league try for the visitors, the Sunbury side never relinquished the lead despite seeing Fergus Mulchrone and Blair Cowan sent to the bin for separate incidents.

They had to make good use of a strong wind at their backs and an O’Connor goal was followed by two quick-fire scores before the break to put them in the box seat.

Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson narrowed the deficit to 8-10 with a penalty but was then at fault in both Exiles scores as first, his grubber cannoned off the thigh of Eamonn Sheridan into the path of Tomas O’Leary who scooped up the ball and set free Alex Lewington to race clear.

O’Connor missed the conversion but straight from the restart Sarries failed to deal with a high, swirling kick and Lewington dribbled the ball through a sea of black shirts but should have been stopped by Hodgson who fumbled. That allowed the winger to toe-poke the ball forward into the path of second row George Skivington who showed the legs to belie his huge frame to, outpacing the far from slow Jamie George to flop on the ball.

O’Connor added the extras to make it 22-8 in his side’s favour at half time and that’s how the scoreboard stayed until late in the second half when Brits squeezed the ball home. Hodgson’s conversion miss summed up Sarries’ afternoon and virtually ended any hopes of a late rally from the hosts and confirmed a famous win for Irish.

Saracens: Ransom (Tomkins), Ashton (Wilson), Bosch, Wyles, Strettle, Hodgson, De Kock (Wigglesworth), Barrington (Saunders), George (Brits), Stevens (Johnstone), Borthwick (c), Botha (Kruis), Wray, Burger, Joubert (Hankin)

Saracens scorers: Try – Bosch, Brits; pen - Hodgson;

London Irish: O’Connor (Fowlie); Lewington, Mulchrone, Sheridan, Fenby; Geraghty (Humphreys), O’Leary (Kennedy); Parr (Yapp), Paice (Stevens), Hagan (Halavatau); Skivington (capt), Rouse (Ellis); Low, Cowan, Treviranus (Sinclair).

London Irish scorers: Try – Parr, Lewington, Skivington; con – O’Connor 2; pen – O’Connor;

Referee: Dean Richards

Attendance: 9,012

Related articles


Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 14:34

Spurs played out their second goalless draw in the space of five days after a 0-0 tie against Bournemouth on the south coast. Here are five talking points.

Fri, 16:00

Spencer McCall is immediately targeting a new objective – avenging Hendon’s opening day defeat to Worthing – after their FA Cup dreams evaporated at Boreham Wood.

Fri, 07:00

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche has set his side the target of joining club hockey’s European elite after emerging as the league’s surprise package this season.

Thu, 22:30

Mauricio Pochettino says he is happy with Dele Alli’s goal return and insists the midfielder should not be expected to score as regularly as a striker.

Thu, 14:16

Mauricio Pochettino feels summer signing Vincent Janssen might be putting too much pressure on himself as he bids to end his dry run in front of goal, and the Tottenham manager says the Dutchman simply needs some encouragement and patience.

Thu, 12:00

A fixture between Toulon and Saracens is always billed as a blockbuster – and Saturday’s pool three Champions Cup opener certainly lived up to the pre-game excitement.

Wed, 21:51

Arsenal’s first match against Bulgarian opposition was a successful one, as Arsene Wenger’s men ran out comfortable 6-0 winners on matchday three of the Uefa Champions League group stage.

Wed, 17:00

Hendon boss Gary McCann admits he is “embarrassed” by Hendon’s lowly league placing – but he expects it to change as players return from injury and suspension.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now