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TWO TRY EMBRA EDGE EXILES

London Irish: 19 (16) Edinburgh Rugby: 20 (10)



The Gunners got this year's Heineken campaign off to a flier with this tight but deserved victory in Reading this afternoon.  It was a win built on character as they shrugged off a six point deficit at the break to limit their hosts to a single penalty in the second period, outscoring them two tries to one overall.  Edinburgh played with ambition and width, although discipline was a concern at times.

After Harry Leonard had missed a very early penalty, the Reading side were six up on eight minutes from two Homer three pointers.  The teenage tyro had a bit of a mixed afternoon, but he is learning quickly and clearly has a good attitude.  He has a nose for the break and is shaping up nicely.  He will take a great deal from this afternoon's experience.

Edinburgh got their noses in front on 15 minutes with a super touchdown from Lee Jones, goaled by Leonard.  Dominating Dave 'Big Hair' Denton fired a long pass to a surging Visser, whose pass inside put Jones over.

Homer regained the lead for the Irish on 23 minutes with another penalty.  And former Embra man Ross Samson extended the lead with a converted try on the half hour.  Leonard's penalty just before the break saw the half time score 16-10 Irish.  While Denton's early replacement had disrupted their flow somewhat, Edinburgh had looked the more likely side for much of the half and will have counted themselves unlucky to be behind.

After Homer had notched his fourth penalty on 45 minutes, Greig Laidlaw came on at scrum half for the visitors and one felt that this might prove to be an astute tactical switch.

While Leonard missed a penalty on 55 minutes, the Gunners roared back into contention with their second try shortly after, this time notched by the impressive Stuart 'Rambo' McInally off a super de Luca flip, converted by Laidlaw.  Two points down going into the final quarter - very much game on.

It looked like Embra had taken the lead shortly afterwards when Tim Visser crossed.  Sadly for The Flying Dutchman, the TV official - eventually - saw a knock on as he grounded the ball and the score was disallowed.

But it was not long before Edinburgh gained the lead with a Laidlaw penalty as the match entered the final ten minutes, when Shontayne Hape's off the ball tussle with the splendidly tousy Sean Cox was picked up by the touch judge.  There was a bit of history to that, Cox having come on midway through the first period following a dangerous Hape tackle on Denton; the young economist having been hit so hard that he could clearly be seen advocating a Keynesian response to Italy's current sovereign debt crisis.  Clearly badly disorientated, he was replaced by Cox.  It was something of a surprise that Referee Poite did not consider that tackle anything to get worked up about.

In the run-up to the crucial penalty, Hape had not only taken Cox out off the ball, but he had also managed to throw a swinging arm at Roddy Grant.  The strangely-named New Zealander duly got his comeuppance - a card and the sight of the Laidlaw kick sailing through the uprights. 

A rather desperate Bowden drop goal attempt and a missed penalty from Homer were as close as Irish came before no-side and Edinburgh's sound defensive work under pressure closed out an important win on the road.

As Mick Bradley said before the match, pretty much every coach - and most folk who've followed this tournament for a year or two - will say that if you win your home matches and at least one away, then you're in with a shout of progressing to the quarters.  But the sides that make it tend to focus on the next match alone. This is a good start for the Gunners, but they need to forget it and concentrate on winning when Racing Metro visit Murrayfield on Friday evening.  With Cardiff's victory at Racing yesterday evening, albeit at the cost of conceding a losing bonus point, this is looking like a tight, but eminently winnable, pool. 

Given that this was only Embra's second win in the last 24 Heineken away matches, they have no reason to be complacent.

TEAMS:

London Irish: Homer, Ansbro, Shingler, Hape, Thompstone, Bowden, Samson, Corbisiero, Buckland, Ion, Kennedy, Garvey, Evans, Gibson, Sinclair. Replacements: Hodgson for Samson (67), Lahiff for Corbisiero (54), Blaney for Buckland (70), Rautenbach for Ion (54), Sandford for Garvey (61), Thorpe for Gibson (61). Not Used: Jarvis, Spratt.

Edinburgh: Thompson, Jones, De Luca, Scott, Visser, Leonard, M. Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Lozada, Gilchrist, Denton, Rennie, McInally. Replacements: Laidlaw for M. Blair (47), Cox for Denton (28), Grant for Rennie (47). Not Used: Lawrie, Traynor, Niven, King, T. Brown.

Attendance: 6,217

Referee: Romain Poite (France).