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Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Saturday, 26 March 2011

London Irish 39-17 Exeter

London Irish (18) 39
Tries: D Armitage, S Armitage 2, Paice Cons: Homer 2 Pens: Homer 5
Exeter (8) 17
Tries: Budgen Pens: Steenson 4

London Irish v Exeter
Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson offloads as James Scaysbrook closes down

Two tries from Steffon Armitage helped London Irish overcome a battling Exeter side at the Madejski Stadium.

Delon Armitage scored the game's opener after only 39 seconds, with Steffon crossing for his first shortly after.

A Chris Budgen try and three quick-fire penalties gave Exeter hope of a comeback but Irish responded with vigour to secure a bonus-point win.

David Paice went over for their third try, before Armitage got his second in the 71st minute to wrap up proceedings.

The result had looked a formality after a blistering opening spell in which Irish exposed frailties in the Chiefs' defence, Delon Armitage touching down inside a minute on his return from an eight-week ban for abusing a drug-testing official.

Armitage's brother Steffon followed suit five minutes later, with winger Tom Homer compounding Exeter's misery as he slotted over the conversion to put Irish 12-0 ahead.

As the half reached its conclusion Exeter started to gain in confidence, and they were rewarded as veteran prop Budgen burrowed over.

The visitors started the second period well, Steenson with an early penalty to reduce the deficit further.

The Chiefs appeared resurgent and, following strong work by Luke Arscott, Matt Jess thought he had scored only for the referee to deem the ball had been held up.

Undeterred, Rob Baxter's men continued to press and came within a point of their hosts following two more Steenson penalties, but any momentum was stopped by the sin-binning of flanker James Scaysbrook.

Irish wasted little time in taking advantage, replacement hooker Paice going over, before Steffon Armitage rounded things off with his second to take the game away from the Chiefs.

Homer kicked two late penalties adding extra gloss to a performance that saw him end the match with 19 points.

London Irish director of rugby Toby Booth said:
"Delon was desperate to play. He had a tenacity and a desire to right the wrongs he put his hand up for and show he does his talking on the pitch, not off it.

"Class is permanent and he showed that today.

"Exeter scored one try off a mistake by us but we shut out a very strong physical side and defended exceptionally well. If you do that you are very hard to beat."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:
"You are going to have some tough times, ride with them and take it on the chin - and this game was one of those.

"If you give a side like London Irish, with that many strike runners, that much time then they hurt you. Everyone needs to remember we are still a work in progress."

London Irish: D Armitage; Ojo, Seveali'i, Mapusua, Homer; Bowden, Hodgson; Dermody, Buckland, Rautenbach; Kennedy, Casey; Gibson, S Armitage, Stowers.

Replacements: Thompstone for Ojo (74), Lamb for Bowden (74), Allinson for Hodgson (56), Paice for Buckland (48), Corbisiero for Rautenbach (48), Thorpe for Kennedy (78), G. Johnson for Casey (20).

Exeter: Arscott; Jess, Shoemark, Naqelevuki, Sestaret; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Clark, Budgen; Hayes, Hanks; Johnson, Scaysbrook, Baxter.

Replacements: Nadolo for Jess (60), Poluleuligaga for Thomas (24), Alcott for Clark (62), Tui for Budgen (60), Slade for Hanks (18), Phillips for Johnson (56).

Sin Bin: Scaysbrook (56).

Att: 20,011

Ref: Greg Garner (RFU).

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see also
Leeds 27-19 London Irish
06 Mar 11 |  English
Exeter 30-9 Northampton
06 Mar 11 |  English
Exeter 9-12 London Irish
23 Oct 10 |  English

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