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SAINTS 36 L IRISH 21 As it happened

Luther Burrell breaks clear in the build-up to the Saints' fourth try © Getty Images

Match Report SAINTS 36 L IRISH 21 As it happened

The Saints ran in five tries and shrugged off a second half comeback from the Exiles to open up a seven-point gap in second place, with just two rounds of Aviva Premiership action to play.

KO
Geraghty gets this game underway!
SAINTS 0 IRISH 0

1min
Saints almost make a mess of the kick off but the ball is scooped up from the deck, driven a couple of times by the forwards and a penalty comes their way. That count is quickly levelled up as Saints go high in the tackle and Geraghty pegs one right into the corner.
SAINTS 0 IRISH 0

3mins
Irish take the battering ram approach with an 11-man maul but Saints get another penalty on the ground. Fotuali’i spots the opportunity to go but while the ball makes its way wide to North, the Samoan’s quick tap wasn’t from the mark. Myler kicks to touch instead.
SAINTS 0 IRISH 0

6mins
MONSTER hit from Pisi. Geraghty fakes a pass inside but the big centre doesn’t buy the dummy and clatters the former-Saintsman. Shuddering tackle.
SAINTS 0 IRISH 0

8mins
That bone-cruncher from George seems to have kicked Saints into life. North grubbers forward and Lawes then gets up to pinch an Irish lineout. Dowson cuts a half gap and the penalty is drawn allowing Myler to kick his side in front.
SAINTS 3 IRISH 0

11mins
Smart dart forward from Geraghty around multiple forwards but North clears up well, buying his side some time and Myler boots clear. Dickinson nicks his side another lineout too.
SAINTS 3 IRISH 0

13mins
SAINTS TRY!!! Irish want to play some rugby but a loose pass goes into touch and Saints sneak a quick one. Pisi and Burrell combine, Fotuali’i box kicks and Elliott scoops up without breaking stride, bursting around Lewington and holding the full back off beneath the sticks.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

15mins
A worrying moment for the Saints ends happily. Geraghty scoops up a spilled ball and while the fly half has the freedom of Franklin’s Gardens in front of him, Foden is quickly back in attendance from across the field. Myler helps out and the full back punts clear - a touch finder compounded by Irish’s inability to secure another lineout.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

18mins
Scrum penalty and a chance to go to the corner - all stemming from an excellent bit of covering from Foden and Myler. Defence has turned to attack.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

20mins
The forwards ares painstakingly grinding out the inches on the Exiles’ 22 but a turnover lets the visitors off the hook. They get stuck into another Saints breakdown as well and earn themselves a penalty just inside halfway. Another pretty good kick from Geraghty.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

23mins
Fair play to Geraghty, who takes another whack well - Lawes this time hunting down his former teammate. Saints turn Irish over soon after and Wood kicks clear impressively.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

26mins
Irish are giving it a good crack and enjoying a majority of the ball at present, but Saints have yet to look uncomfortable. North gets over the top of Sheridan for a turnover and Yarde then carries Fotuali’i’s kick into touch for a Saints lineout.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

29mins
Successive penalties take Saints onto the visiting 5m line. Time to turn the screw.
SAINTS 10 IRISH 0

30mins
SAINTS TRY!! Having played away from the set piece first time around, Saints maul the next lineout but Irish do excellently to turnover. The kick is half charged down though and while the bouncing ball evades North and Yarde, Fotuali’i gathers and dances around the outside and into the corner.
SAINTS 15 IRISH 0

31mins
That’s a fine wide conversion from Myler, too, into the wind and with a little help from the crossbar. Saints taking control on the scoreboard.
SAINTS 17 IRISH 0

33mins
Flowing stuff from the Exiles, in particular the forwards, but when they eventually make a gap for Lewington to dart through referee Doyle's whistle had already gone for a forward pass. Signs of what this side are cable of when allowed though.
SAINTS 17 IRISH 0

36mins
SAINTS TRY!!!! Electric stuff from Foden. Having started the move with a brilliant counter dart for some 50m, the full back is on hand to provide the scoring pass for Jamie Elliott. The winger loves playing against the Exiles at the Gardens - he bagged a hat-trick against them here last season!
SAINTS 22 IRISH 0

38mins
Myler has his eye in and lands a fourth kick of the day, again from out wide. Impressive kicking from the Saints 10 with the breeze in his face.
SAINTS 24 IRISH 0

40mins
A couple of slightly aimless kicks are followed by a pretty decent one from Geraghty. Saints have their lineout in order though, Lawes gathering and Fotuali’i ending a hugely satisfactory opening 40.
SAINTS 24 IRISH 0

HT
Points, not possession, are what matter in rugby and while the stats may show Irish edging the territory at the Gardens, they’ve done relatively little with it. The Saints on the other hand have been ruthlessly clinical.
SAINTS 24 IRISH 0

40mins
Second half back underway, Calum Clark is on for Saints appearance #100!

42mins
SAINTS TRY!!!! Burrell carves through from nowhere and while Irish get to the ball and slow it down, play eventually comes right and Ma’afu bullies his way over for a first Saints try and a bonus point.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

44mins
Rare miss from Myler, that. Wind playing havoc with the ball on the tee and the conversion darts right of the posts with the fly half perhaps pressed for time.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

45mins
Geraghty will not be enjoying his return to the Gardens. Pisi again cuts the fly half in two and North is only denied around the outside by an outstanding tackle from Fenby.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

50mins
Irish seeing plenty of time on the ball again but sloppiness has let them down on a couple of occasions at the breakdown. Another attack ends on halfway as Homer drops the ball into touch.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

55mins
A pretty turgid period of play ends with Saints driving out a scrum penalty and a big response from the Gardens. Hopefully more for us to add in the near future!
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

57mins
Or perhaps not as a quick tap ends in a knock on! Saints have changed Wallers and Denman is on for Ma’afu. van Velze also ready to come on.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 0

58mins
Irish try - or is it? Saints are turned over again and a hack forward bounces all over the place before Fenby picks up and saunters under the posts. Burrell thinks he was pulled back chasing the ball down - the TMO doesn’t. Geraghty converts.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 7

61mins
Irish try and off turnover ball again. He’s taken a real battering this afternoon but Geraghty has stuck round and picks off a loose offload, this time having the pace to go the 80m upfield. He also converts.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 14

62mins
More Saints changes - van Velze for Dickinson and Wilson for Foden. Always tough to keep the squeeze on for a full 80 and the coaches are hoping some fresh faces will kick this performance back into life.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 14

64mins
Burrell following centre partner Pisi’s lead with a sizeable tackle on Yarde but Irish recycle and go again. With absolutely nothing to lose now they’re flinging the ball all around the Gardens.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 14

64mins
The Wallers have swapped back over and Williams is on for a Premiership debut in Clark’s place. Irish put a penalty back into the Saints 22 and another moment of danger lurks.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 14

67mins
Irish try. Big moment for the Exiles as Waller sees yellow. Saints under a huge amount of pressure on their own line as the visitors pick and drive and referee Doyle wards the try. Geraghty converts.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

69mins
Saints need to keep a cool head having seen much of their lead evaporate in the space of 11 minutes. There’s a break in play for a really worrying looking injury to Williams.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

70mins
Never good to see any player go off on a stretcher and there’s a lot of concern for the young hooker just inside the Irish half.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

71mins
What a big moment that could prove to be. Saints’ seven-man pack drives out a scrum penalty against the head and it is they who are on the attack now. Another penalty is pinged to the corner by Myler.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

72mins
Could be number four for Irish - another turnover ran clear. Homer takes the contact and releases Yarde but the pass is forwards and Saints breathe again. Heart in mouths moment!
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

74mins
The pack are rallying and win another scrum penalty inside the Irish half. Now McMillan takes his time to get up from the deck but he looks ok to go on. After what looked like a straightforward first half, it’s been a bruising second.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

75mins
Myler can’t make the penalty count from the far side.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

76mins
The fly half’s next kick is an excellent one though and Homer has to slide into touch 2m from his own line, plenty of black, green and gold shirts in attendance if he slipped up there.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

77mins
Waller and van Velze are back on as Saints get ready to scrum a 5m penalty. One last push should do it and either way, the clock is fast ticking towards 80.
SAINTS 29 IRISH 21

80mins
SAINTS TRRYYYYYYYYYY! The crabbing scrum doesn’t bring about a score, but turnover ball does and the excellent Fotuali’i loops a pass out wide to Waller to give Saints the final say.
SAINTS 34 IRISH 21

FT
Wilson converts, Saints win. More of a battle than they would have wished for at half-time and while credit must go to London Irish, it was very much a case of the hosts shooting themselves in the foot. All’s well that ends well though and five valuable points belong to the Saints, comfortably in the end.
SAINTS 36 IRISH 21

TIMELINE
9mins SAINTS Pen Myler 3-0
14mins SAINTS Try Elliott Con Myler 10-0
31mins SAINTS Try Fotuali’i Con Myler 17-0
36mins SAINTS Try Elliott Con Myler 24-0
HALF-TIME SAINTS 29 IRISH 21
42mins SAINTS Try Ma’afu 29-0
58mins IRISH Try Fenby Con Geraghty 29-7
61mins IRISH Try + Con Geraghty 29-14
66mins SAINTS Yellow A Waller
67mins IRISH Try Rouse Con Geraghty 29-21
75mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler
80mins SAINTS Try A Waller Con Wilson 36-21
FULL-TIME SAINTS 36 IRISH 21

SAINTS: Foden; Elliott, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Myler, Fotuali’i; A Waller, McMillan, Ma’afu, Manoa, Lawes, Wood (capt), Dowson, Dickinson

Reps: Williams, E Waller, Denman, Clark, van Velze, A Day, Hooley, Wilson

IRISH: Lewington; Yarde, Mulchrone, Sheridan, Fenby; Geraghty (capt), O’Leary; Parr, Mayhew, Halavatau, Low, Rouse, Cowan, Ellis, Treviranus

Reps: Stevens, Harris, Hagan, Evans, Sinclair, Homer, Dorrian, Allinson

Aviva Man of the Match: Salesi Ma’afu

Referee: JP Doyle

Att: 13, 475

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