London Irish Wild Geese Rugby I XV 21 – 14 Sidcup Rugby I XV: London Division 1 Promotion play off – 23rd April 2011

London Irish achieved a remarkable consecutive promotion on Saturday when defeating London 1 North runners up Sidcup in an enthralling encounter at Sunbury. Played in glorious spring sunshine in front of a crowd approaching a thousand people including the loud and passionate Sidcup following who had travelled across South London to celebrate St Georges Day.

Irish controlled the first half playing for position and ensuring the game was played in the Sidcup half, two penalties and a drop goal by Liam Prescott were just reward for their dominance. Then two tries by centre Lewis Chance either side of half time effectively closed the game off as London Irish held a 21-3 lead. His first was created though a clever break by scrumhalf Karl Becker off a driving maul, the second was a counter attack from deep and he outpaced the cover down the touchline to score in the corner.

It appeared The Wild Geese believed they had done enough but for the last half an hour Sidcup battered the Irish Line time and again. Penalties were conceded in attempts to hold the visitors out and soon they had clawed back a further six points. Then the inevitable try came from continuous pick and drives by the large Sidcup pack in the Irish 22, the conversion came off the upright but at 21-14 with ten minutes of injury time added on Irish were hanging on and only tremendous midfield defence prevented the score that would have seen the match enter extra time.

The final whistle was greeted with scenes of wild jubilation as the Irish supporters ran onto the pitch to celebrate promotion to National 3 with their players.

Irish Director of Rugby Chris Magowan commented “We played a clever game for the first 50 minutes and got the required scores on the board but rather than push on and open up the game we went into defensive mode too early and tried to protect our lead, but that’s cup rugby. Sidcup threw everything at us in the last half an hour and they can be proud of their efforts”. He added “The Club have been on a journey over the last three years that has culminated in a second promotion in two years, the players can be proud of their achievements and look forward to playing National League rugby next year”.

Chairman David Fitzgerald said “London Irish is a truly unique Club, providing rugby from European Cup, Vets, Girls to Youth and Mini at every age level from U7s and now National League rugby at Sunbury all under a united banner. At a time when Club rugby in England is suffering London Irish continues to grow”.

By Chris Magowan

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