SIX TRIES in the first half an hour gave the bumper London Irish crowd a St Patrick’s Party to remember at Madejski Stadium with victory over Cornish Pirates.
A record-breaking Championship attendance of 11,671 watched on as Exiles produced in their biggest game of the season thanks to tries from Topsy Ojo (2), David Paice, Sebastian De Chaves, Ben Ransom (2) and Alex Lewington.
Pirates replied with a couple of tries of their own, but after some fierce second half defending, and a late Ojo try, Irish cruised through to win 39-10 and keep up their 100% record in the league this season.
Nick Kennedy made six changes from the league win over Yorkshire Carnegie with Ojo, Ransom, Brendan McKibbin, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Luke Narraway and Senitiki Nayalo all starting.
The big man stepped up for the big occasion to get the ball rolling as Irish’s record try-scorer Ojo crashed over in the corner after great work in the midfield.
That advantage was soon extended to 10-0 when captain Paice broke the line to score after a strong run by Ojo, but James Marshall was twice off target with his kicks.
Pirates worked themselves into a dangerous position only for Toby May’s grubber kick to bounce just into touch.
But the Exiles really turned the screw to take the game away from their visitors with an incredible run of four tries in seven minutes.
De Chaves was the first, diving over right between the posts, allowing Marshall to kick over his first points of the contest but then the backs took over.
Ransom got his first after finding space on the left to score in the corner before Lewington notched a superb try, dancing away from a number of challenges down the right flank and
keeping his feet in play before dabbing down.
There would be no let up as Ransom added another, completing a brace against Pirates for the second time this season. The move began following a brave charge down by Hobbs-Awoyemi, which allowed Irish to counter and Ransom to go over in the corner.
The visitors finally got on the score board just past the half hour mark in dubious fashion when Jake Parker was rewarded a try, despite appearing to knock the ball on.
And the deficit was reduced to 34-10 at the break when Alex Dancer broke beyond two challenges to reach over and score.
It was Pirates who started the second half the stronger of the two sides and threatened to narrow the gap further, but a brilliant spell of sustained defensive work kept them at bay.
And that proved to be the story of the entire second half with the Exiles struggling to repeat their first half heroics going forward and instead having to hold firm to preserve their advantage.
It looked as though the second period was pass scoreless, until the ball was worked out to Ojo on the wing in the dying moments to score his second of the day.
LONDON IRISH: Ransom, Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Mulchrone, Ojo, Marshall, McKibbin, Hobbs-Awoyemi, Paice (c), Franks, Robson, De Chaves, Narraway, Cowan, Nayalo.
Reps: Elrington, Hoskins, McNally, Sexton, Steele, Atkins
Tries: Ojo x2 (9,80), Paice (17), De Chaves (24), Ransom x2 (28,31), Lewington (29)
Cons: Marshall x2
CORNISH PIRATES: May, O’Meara, Dancer, De Battista, Moyle, Cargill, Day, Walker, Innard, P. Andrew, Morgan (c), Beukeboom, Parker, Lee, Duncan.
Reps: J. Andrew, Chapman, Stevens, Bartlett, Pope, May, Arnott.
Tries: Parker (37), Dancer (39)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys