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- Aviva Premiership
- 14th Apr 2012
- KO 15:00
- Ground: Madejski Stadium
- Att: 19,546
Armitage heroics in vain
Hodgson boots Saracens to hard-fought victory
Delon Armitage scored two tries on his return to the London Irish starting line-up, but could not prevent the Exiles sliding to a 28-19 defeat against Saracens at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
The reverse represented a seventh straight Aviva Premiership loss for London Irish who remain in ninth spot in the standings.
Armitage, who had been on the bench for the previous two matches, struck in each half for the hosts, whose other nine points came from three Tom Homer penalties.
Saracens won the match on the back of an immaculate kicking display from England fly-half Charlie Hodgson who landed five penalties from five attempts, struck two drop goals and converted Sarries' only try, scored by flanker Will Fraser.
However, the victory was not enough to stop the reigning Premiership champions dropping from second to third as Leicester moved above them with their bonus-point win at Northampton earlier in the day.
Homer kicked Irish into the lead in the seventh minute with his opening penalty, although Saracens drew level three minutes later - Hodgson slotting his first drop-goal following a powerful rolling maul off the back of a lineout.
Homer restored the home side's lead with a 15th-minute penalty after Saracens strayed offside and he then made it 9-3 with his third after 19 minutes when prop Matt Stevens - who was enduring a tough afternoon against England squad-mate Alex Corbisiero - was penalised at a scrum.
Hodgson reduced the deficit to three points with a penalty before out-of-favour England full-back Armitage, recalled to the Irish side as a winger, scored the opening try.
Centre Jonathan Joseph timed the final pass to perfection to send Armitage bursting through Sarries full-back Alex Goode's attempted tackle.
But Hodgson kept the visitors in touch with two well-struck penalties in the final four minutes of the opening half to ensure Irish went in only 14-12 to the good at the break.
He struck from 45 metres when Irish were caught offside in the 36th minute and two minutes later the fly-half eclipsed that after Irish were penalised at the breakdown.
Having already warned the hosts over infringements at the breakdown, referee Martin Fox finally lost patience with the hosts' indiscipline when he dispatched flanker Jamie Gibson to the sin-bin in the 52nd minute.
Hodgson kicked the resulting penalty to put Saracens ahead for the first time and Saracens then capitalised on their one-man advantage, winning a line-out and producing a 20-metre rolling maul which ended with Fraser touching down - Hodgson converted to put them 22-14 ahead.
But Irish, restored to 15 players, hit back with Armitage's second try. Taking a pass from lock Bryn Evans, he stepped inside Sarries' centre Chris Wyles before beating two more defenders on the way to the line.
Hodgson eased any Saracens nerves with his fourth penalty in the 81st minute but two minutes later the visitors were reduced to 14 men when Fraser was yellow-carded for tackling Homer in the air as the young full-back collected a high-kick.
Irish conceded two penalties as they tried to press home their advantage but Hodgson denied them even the consolation of a losing bonus-point with his second drop-goal in the final minute.Rugby Union Specials. Click here to bet.
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle Falcons|
|15:00||Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|13:00||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|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
|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|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com