Promoted London Irish overcome Wasps with 26-29 win

Paddy Jackson kicked 14 points for London Irish
Paddy Jackson kicked 14 points for London Irish

Wasps 26-29 London Irish, Ricoh Arena

New promoted London Irish made an impressive start to the Gallagher Premiership season as they managed to overcome Wasps with a 26-29 win at Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Both the sides handed debut to their new signings with Zach Kibirige and Malakai Fekitoa for Wasps while Paddy Jackson featured for the Exiles.

London Irish, who went on to win 20 out of the 22 games in the Championship last season scored the opening through Blair Cowan in the ninth minute but Wasps still had the lead with Lima Sopoaga kicking two penalties.

Jackson announced his arrival with two penalty kicks in the 21st and 24th minutes that were separated by a Wasps try from Kibirige as the scoreline became 11-11 by the half-hour mark.

With Albert Tuisue and Kibirige trading tries the score remain levelled before Jackson's penalty kick at the stroke of half-time gave the visitors a slender 16-19 lead at the end of the first half.

London Irish controlled the early phase in the second half when Ollie Hassell-Collins capitalised on a pass from Blair Cowan as he crossed over and Jackson kicked a conversion and a penalty goal to take them to a 13 point lead.

However, their momentum dipped with Ruan Botha's sin-bin in the 61st minute and Wasps capitalised the numerical advantage with Dan Robson dotting down while a conversion from Sopoaga and a penalty from Jacob Umaga got Dai Young's men close but eventually fell short by three points.

"We should have been better than that as we gave away some soft tries with two conceded from turnovers," said Wasps director of rugby Dai Young.

"We didn't get much ball in the first half and when we did, we panicked. We left ourselves with a mountain to club and I'm frustrated that we put ourselves in that position.

"The second half was a reversal of the first as we had plenty of the ball but we weren't good enough to change the scoreline.

"We knew it would be tough against them as the promoted side has won on the opening day in three of the last four seasons, and parts of their game were top drawer.

"There were a few positives out there with Zach Kibirige finishing fantastically."

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

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