London Irish blog: Irish not Hape bunniesBy Mad Monk
November 01, 2011
It being half term the match is a family affair. Mini Monk, Mrs. Monk and friend join me beneath the drummers. They have been given drums as well so my ears are bleeding gently over my blackberry.
I am not very happy about the result so I will be brief and simply remove the more blasphemous or rude elements from the notes I made at the ground. Notes I had expected to expand on as I relived our victory on ESPN. Ho hum.
Irish are missing their own lineouts, get grip boys! Bath had the first chance at points in what turns out to be a low scoring game. It is an easy penalty which Vesty flunks so Rose gives his team another. Mindful of his recently demonstrated limitations Vesty doesn’t risk the posts and puts it in the corner. Irish turn the ruck and clear. Bath camp on our line and come away with nothing.
It is not long before Irish are up to the Bath 22. In what probably turned out to be a decisive substitution Jonathan Joseph goes off clutching his shoulder to be replaced by Shingler.
Delon is back from the land of the long white cloud and has ousted Tom from full back. Tom moves to the wing. The clearance by Bath is returned too deep gifting a scrum back. No names no pack drill – who is 15? The first quarter slips by rather unremarkably with no score. Compare that with the blood and guts shown the day before at Castle Grim when Sarries breached Gloucester’s home record.
Back in Reading Irish are back in the Bath 22 with the scrum. There is another closer, in front of posts but with a Bath put in. At least we are matching them in the scrum. Irish rebuild, kick through into the corner setting up a pressure lineout for Bath. Clearance is short so there is another on their 22 with Irish to throw.
Bath winger Tom Biggs breaks, changes direction, and then slips as he was being tackled. Rose thinks this means it a high tackle and worth a yellow card. I check later and reluctantly admit that it was worth a penalty but would still question the card. The problem is that Del boy has ‘previous’. Bath still does not trust the boot of Vesty and put it in the corner. The rolling maul is held up but they spread wide and Vesty gets on the scoreboard in slightly more devastating manner by scoring in the opposite corner. He may be able to score but he can't kick for toffee so in remains 5-0 with five minutes to half time.
Irish start playing better with 14 men. They are camped on the Bath line but the clock defeats them and a nudge forward lets Bath off the hook.
Irish start the second half with the first kickable penalty for the home side. Tom reduces the deficit to two. The momentum is with the home side now. Two scrums go to Irish; the Bath scrum is not binding so Irish get another penalty. Tom has the chance to put Irish ahead. He does so with the help of the upright.
This is Irish’s window of opportunity. Bath is falling apart, unforced errors give Irish a scrum 5. Rose lets Bath off the hook. They break against the run of play but Biggs is ushered into touch.
Buoyed my refereeing sympathetic to the visitors Bath rally but cannot find a way through. The last quarter approaches as Irish cling to the narrowest possible lead.
Irish continue to dominate the scrum and win another penalty to put them into enemy territory. They are turned over and defending again.
Attwood thinks he has scored in the corner but peering through green tinted binoculars he was clearly in touch. The TMO does not agree and Irish are robbed again. Luckily Vesty is rubbish and misses the conversion. We are only 4 points adrift. We get a penalty, take it quickly and are clear to the line. Rose calls us back and makes us take it three grass blades to the right. Irish continue to pressure and get a scrum deep in their 22.
Irish get a penalty from the scrum and Tom puts us to within a point. It is the last ten minutes. I am willing the tide to turn and look for evidence. There are signs but Irish are still a point down.
Bath are offside again, this time Rose spots it and Tom has the chance to put Irish ahead. They are on 12-10 with 4 minutes to play. What do I keep saying about giving away points at the end of a match? Rose gives Bath a penalty in front of the posts. In a vey debatable decision Hape is penalized for “handling” in the ruck. No doubt an influencing factor for Rose is that it is so close to the posts that even Vesty could not miss, plus of course it would swing the game back in favour of the visitors.
Just like last year Bath go one point ahead at the end. This time there is time for the restart. Bath knocks on but Rose gives them the penalty from the scrum. There is just time for the lineout. Incensed Irish steal the lineout and recycle. Despite a dozen phases where Bath was infringing Rose refuses to give the decisive penalty to the home side. Eventually it is turned over and Bath kicks the ball off the park for another undeserved one point victory at Madejski.
We have won three, lost four which puts us back down to mid table. We have however scored more points than we have conceded and even scored more tries than we have conceded. That however does not cut much ice. The blessing “may all your losses be little ones” doesn’t work in rugby.