Yorkshire Carnegie boss Bryan Redpath has admitted his side “made it very easy” for London Irish as their unbeaten start to the league season was brought to an abrupt end by a 41-17 defeat at the Madejski Stadium.
Irish, who now have the only 100 per cent record in this season’s Championship, out-scored Carnegie by five tries to two and thoroughly deserved the win.
Head coach Redpath said: “I think we made it very easy for London Irish to create pressure on us by some of our mistakes, certainly in the first half where we lost four or five line-outs.
“We didn’t have control in the game but credit to Irish who capitalised on some of our errors and showed that they are clinical and strong enough across the board to beat us.”
An entertaining first period began with Joe Ford slotting over a 24-metre penalty after the home side had been penalised at a driving maul.
But Irish, who had put 62 points past London Scottish the previous week, replied immediately with Blair Cowan’s offload allowing Ben Ransom to cross over.
Former Carnegie man Tommy Bell added the simple conversion from in front of the posts.
The visitors fell further behind when Jack Whetton was penalised for not releasing and Bell kicked his first penalty.
Carnegie then spurned the chance to cut the deficit from a scrum penalty.
Rather than kick for the posts, Ford kicked to touch, but Mike Mayhew’s throw was pinched by Sebastian De Chaves and Irish cleared their lines.
The home side’s second try came about following a nice exchange of passes involving James Marshall, Joe Cokanasiga and Aseli Tikoirotuma.
Tikoirotuma was also helped by a number of missed tackles as he charged over in the corner.
Just when it looked as if Irish were going to run away with it, Jonah Holmes intercepted a pass 40 metres out and touched down between the posts.
Ford added the simple conversion to cut the Irish lead to seven points.
With the home side’s defence holding firm, the visitors turned to Ford to try to eat further into the Irish advantage but he pulled his drop goal attempt wide of the left post from 30 metres.
Redpath’s men then had an early let off early in the second half. Andy Saull was penalised for handling in the scrum, but Bell’s radar was slightly off and he pulled wide his long penalty attempt.
The former Leicester Tigers back made no mistake with his next attempt, landing a kick from halfway for an offside infringement.
Irish continued to dominate and, after a series of phases deep in Carnegie territory, they scored their third try with Ransom crossing over in the corner after the ball had been worked wide.
The home side thought they had secured their four-try bonus point when replacement and former England international Topsy Ojo crashed over in the corner, but referee Ian Tempest called play back for a forward pass in the build- up.
Irish continued to stretch the play in search of the extra point. Gerard Ellis attempted to burrow his way under the Carnegie defence, but he came up just short of the line.
Redpath’s men then knocked on just a few metres out and, from the resulting scrum, Irish worked it to James Marshall, who bounced off a couple of tackles to score between the posts.
With maximum points secured, Irish continued to put together wave after wave of attack, emphasising their status as the team to beat in this season’s Championship.
Marshall crashed through a tired Yorkshire defence for his second try in as many minutes and Bell added the extras.
Yorkshire heads did not drop and from a five-metre lineout Carnegie worked the ball infield to find Holmes, who slalomed his way past a couple of defenders for a consolation score.
All that was left was for Ford to drop-kick the conversion, adding a shred of scoreboard respectability.
The result leaves leaders Irish six points clear of Carnegie.
London Irish: Bell, Cockanasiga (Ojo 56), Tikoirotuma, Mulchrone, Ransom, Marshall, McKibbin (Steele 62), Court (Elrington 75), Ellis (Gleave 78), Franks (c) (Palframan 75), De Chaves (Lloyd 68), Robson, Coman (Nayolo 56), Cowan, Treviranus.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl (Wright 70), Holmes, Forsyth, Lucock, Stegmann, Ford, Davies (Green 56), Beech (Boyce 51), Mayhew (Nilsen 56), Cusack (O’Donnell 46), Whetton, Sanderson, Burrows (c), Saull (Walker 70), Stedman (Beck 64).
Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU).