Edinburgh throw away 16-point lead before beating London Irish 23-18 in Challenge Cup
Last Updated: 05/04/15 9:52pm
Edinburgh came out on top in a topsy-turvy European Challenge Cup quarter-final against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, winning 23-18.
The visitors raced into a 16-0 lead after 20 minutes courtesy of a Willem Nel try and the kicking of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, only to find themselves 18-16 down early in the second half.
The Scottish side came back at Irish once more, however, and retook the lead through Fraser McKenzie’s try.
From that point onwards the hosts huffed and puffed in an attempt to get back into the game but, ultimately, they were unable to find the breakthrough as the Pro12 outfit moved into the last four.
Glenn Delaney’s side thought they had snatched the win right at the death as their forwards piled over the line, but with Edinburgh players looking to be underneath the ball, the TMO ruled in favour of the Scots.
It will have been a relief to Edinburgh to hold on having looked to have gone a long way towards winning the match in the opening quarter of the game.
Hidalgo-Clyne kicked 11 points to go alongside Nel’s try before Irish finally troubled the scorers just past the half-hour, Shane Geraghty on target from the kicking tee.
The fly-half then missed a simple looking kick in the final minute of the half but was given another chance before the whistle went as Conor Gilsenan crashed over to give Irish hope. Geraghty made no mistake in adding the extras to close to the gap to just six points at the break.
He reduced the deficit further five minutes into the second period before scrum-half Scott Steele went over following a sustained spell of pressure in Edinburgh territory.
Geraghty slid the conversion wide of the posts but Irish had completed an impressive turnaround.
Their joy lasted just seven minutes as Edinburgh hit back through replacement forward McKenzie, once more Hidalgo-Clyne was clinical with his kick as the away side took what proved to be a decisive five-point lead.
With Irish pilling on the pressure in the closing stages, John Andress was sent to the sin-bin with three minutes left but Edinburgh’s 14 men did just enough to stay in front and set up a home semi-final against Newport Gwent Dragons.