Topsy Ojo marked his record-equalling appearance for London Irish with a try as his side cruised to a dominant 72-5 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie at the Madejski Stadium, writes Fiona Tomas.
Declan Kidney’s men made it six wins from six to further cement their status as Greene King IPA Championship promotion contenders with a ruthless performance which involved a twelve-try extravaganza.
Ben Meehan dotted down Irish’s first early on in a fleeting attacking move inspired by scrum-half Brendan McKibbin, who spotted a gap to burst through Carnegie’s line, before Tom Parton crossed.
The Irish pack were awarded a penalty try after a quarter of an hour when Carnegie brought down an oncoming maul, prompting referee John Meredith to send Will Britton to the bin.
It was the start of a hefty onslaught from The Exiles’ forward pack – which was clinical all afternoon through their punishing, powerful drives.
The home side wrapped up the try-bonus point shortly after the half-hour mark in another well-worked rolling maul, with Samoan Motu Matu’u marking his debut with Irish’s fourth.
Carnegie’s Matt Smith sustained a serious injury during the passage of play, resulting in a lengthy time out.
But there was no drop in Irish’s rhythm after prop Ollie Hoskins thumped the ball down shortly after the restart – the product of another strong push from the men in green to ensure Irish cruised into a 31-0 victory by the half-time whistle.
The try-fest continued minutes into the second-half when Parton grabbed his second in similar fashion to his first, touching down after the ball was flung out towards the right wing.
The Leeds outfit did show more vigour in the second period, but Hoskins soon added his second – and Irish’s seventh – before Barney Maddison crossed.
Carnegie – who were looking to end a four-game losing streak – were up against it in a game where Exiles talisman Ojo won the plaudits of the Madejski crowd every time he touched the ball.
The 33-year-old, making his record-equalling appearance of 290 caps for the Exiles to level with Australian hooker David Paice, crucially intercepted a looping ball deep inside Irish’s territory to snuff out Carnegie’s best chance of the game early on.
And the two-time England international and eventual man-of-the-match showed why he will go down in history as one of Irish’s best, stretching his legs to cross on the hour mark after a darting run and offload by the fiery Parton.
Substitute Fergus Mulchrone joined in on the fun for Irish’s tenth, by which time Meehan – who slotted into the fly-half after David Meyler injured in the warm-up – was enjoying relative success from the tee.
Saia Fainga’a crossed for Irish’s eleventh in another routine, charging drive towards the Carnegie line, before Hoskins sealed his hat-trick.
A quick tap-and go from Carnegie’s JB Bruzullier in the dying moments saw the visitors gain a consolation try, the scum-half dancing through Irish’s defence to make the long trip back up the M1 slightly less onerous.