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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 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