Aviva Premiership: Leicester Tigers hold off London Irish
Leicester moved into the Aviva Premiership play-off positions with a 20-15 victory at London Irish on Sunday.
Last Updated: 23/02/14 4:56pm
Irish opened the scoring after a minute with a James O'Connor penalty but lost the lead when Ben Youngs dived over the line, before two more O'Connor penalties either side of a Logovi'i Mulipola try gave the hosts a 10-9 lead at the break.
Shortly before Eamonn Sheridan returned to the field after being sin binned at the end of the first half, Vereniki Goneva scored in unlikely circumstances before an Owen Williams penalty took the visitors 11 points clear, but two penalties from O'Connor and Ian Humphreys set up a grandstand finish.
Jebb Sinclair looked to have dramatically snatched the win in the last minute, but his try was chalked off.
Leicester got off to a sloppy start, conceding a penalty straight after the kick-off, which O'Connor converted from under the posts to give the home side an early lead.
After several scrums on the Irish line, Youngs scuttled over the line in the corner, with Williams unsuccessful with the conversion.
Irish were awarded a kick at goal soon afterwards, when Louis Deacon made a tackle in mid-air from the lineout, but O'Connor's kick drifted inches wide.
O'Connor was presented with an opportunity to atone for his earlier miss with a penalty from similar distance, the full-back improving to give the hosts a 6-5 lead.
After resilient defending held Irish off, the Tigers conceded a penalty in front of the posts, with O'Connor kicking his third three-pointer of the game.
Leicester took the lead in contentious circumstances as Mulipola drove over the line in the corner, with the TMO granting the forward the benefit of the doubt as to whether or not the ball was grounded, with replays proving inconclusive.
Though Irish still held a 10-9 lead going into the break, their job for the second half was made harder as Sheridan was sent to the sin bin for taking out Mathew Tait in the air.
After dominating possession in the sin bin period, Leicester got a third try on the board as Goneva expertly evaded Irish's defence after failing to take the pass initially, before going over in the corner. Williams then kicked his first conversion of the game to give Leicester a 17-9 lead.
Leicester continued to dominate possession and territory and were awarded a penalty at the scrum, which Williams converted to extend the visitors' advantage.
Irish were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which O'Connor duly converted to reduce the deficit to eight points with just under 20 minutes left on the clock.
The hosts were then handed a big lifeline as Thomas Waldrom was sin binned with little over 10 minutes to go, but O'Connor's penalty from out wide was off target.
Just a couple of minutes later though Irish did find a way back into the match as Humphreys, taking over from O'Connor, kicked the three-pointer to leave them five adrift.
After advancing the full length of the field in little over a minute, Irish looked to have won the game in dramatic fashion as Sinclair collected the ball and touched down, but the TMO correctly ruled the try out for a knock on in the build-up.