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Aviva Premiership: London Irish claim surprise win at Saracens
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London Irish eased their relegation worries with a 22-13 victory at Saracens, the Premiership leaders' first defeat at Allianz Park this season.
The Exiles had won just one of their last six matches against Sarries but led 22-8 at the break thanks to tries from Matt Parr, Alex Lewington and George Skivington.
Saracens had led briefly through Marcelo Bosch's try in the 13th minute but - despite London Irish twice being reduced temporarily to 14 men - the league leaders failed to build any momentum.
Schalk Brits' try five minutes before the end gave them hope but Charlie Hodgson failed with the conversion attempt as Irish ran out 22-13 winners to give Northampton Saints the chance to take over at the top later in the day.
Shane Geraghty put the kick-off straight into touch but Saracens were penalised at the resulting scrum and, from the halfway line, James O'Connor put Irish ahead after three minutes.
After nine minutes Fergus Mulchrone was sent to the sin-bin for the Exiles after they were penalised at the breakdown for a fifth time in the opening minutes.
And five minutes later Saracens made their pressure pay. A quickly taken penalty five metres out was held up on the line but Hodgson spread the ball to Bosch on the overlap who went over for his first try for Saracens.
With Mulchrone back on the field the visitors grew into the game and they went ahead on 21 minutes through Parr's first Premiership try, the prop collecting Nic Rouse's off-load after clever play by Tomas O'Leary.
Blair Cowan became the second Exile to be sent to the bin but a Hodgson penalty was the hosts' only reward with the flanker off the pitch.
But the visitors shocked the home side with two tries in three first-half minutes as the match approached half-time.
First Hodgson's kick was charged down and O'Leary passed to winger Lewington, who crossed in the corner before Exiles captain Skivington went over on his return after scrappy play in midfield saw the ball kicked on several times.
O'Connor converted the latter having also added the extras to Parr's score to send the Exiles in 22-8 up at the break.
England centre Joel Tomkins made his return after three months out with a knee injury on 52 minutes.
With seven minutes remaining Brits broke through a gap in midfield to take play within 10 metres of the London Irish line.
The ball was recycled and spread wide before the visitors were penalised for a high tackle.
Saracens went for the scrum and finally burrowed over through Brits, though Hodgson's missed conversion ensured Sarries lost a regular season match for the first time at Allianz Park.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com