London Irish struck by wasps after collapse in second half
A breathtaking collapse in the second half against Wasps has almost certainly dashed Londoners ‘hopes of qualifying for the European Champions’ Cup in a thrilling encounter at Brentford Community Stadium.
The Exiles were leading 33:10 at halftime, gave up five attempts after the break and lost 39:36 as the visitors overtook them on the Gallagher Premiership table to make it into the top with an attempt by Tom Willis deep in stoppage time. Eight to climb a dramatic victory.
The Irish conclude their season at leaders Bristol next week and need the win and help from elsewhere to secure their place at the top of the European rugby club for the first time in a decade.
In front of more than 4,000 fans on a wonderful afternoon, the game began like a dream for the Exiles, who after 18 minutes led 19-3 thanks to two Curtis Rona attempts and a fiver from Oli Hasell-Collins.
An intercept attempt by Josh Bassett closed the gap to 19-10 before the hosts scored a bonus point with two goals from Albert Tuisue at No. 8.
But with their season very much at stake, the former European champions came off the blocks after halftime with two rapid-fire attempts from Willis and Marcus Watson but Jacob Umaga was unable to kick the casts to comfortably leave the Irish ahead .
But shaken by those early setbacks, Irish looked like a shadow of the team that dominated the first 40 minutes, and when Adam Coleman received the yellow card, Willis scored his second try under the post shortly after Paddy Jackson had the hosts’ nerves with one had slightly calmed down a penalty.
Jackson then had a glorious opportunity to put the Irish in the lead at 39:25, but his penalty bounced off the post in perfect kicking conditions.
Buoyed by this defeat, Wasps winger Bassett scored a converted attempt to close the gap to four points and set up camp on the Irish line for the final five minutes.
When time ran out, the Irish thought they had won the game when Watson’try was not allowed to cross with one foot on the sideline.
However, the guests got the ball way back in stoppage time with a penalty against the desperate Irish defense and in the 86th minute Willis went over the side for his hat-trick to keep the home side down.