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Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

Bath 20-20 London Irish

Bath (17) 20
Tries: Hooper, Banahan, Maddock Con: James Pen: James

London Irish (0) 20
Tries: Thompstone, Mapusua, Ojo Con: Geraghty Pen: Geraghty

London Irish winger Topsy Ojo
Ojo breaks through the Bath defence at the Rec

London Irish produced a stunning second-half fightback to claim a draw against play-off rivals Bath.

Bath looked like they were heading for a comfortable victory after tries from Stuart Hooper, Matthew Banahan and Joe Maddock put them 17-0 up at the break.

But Irish fought back with wing Adam Thompstone and impressive centre Seilala Mapusua both crossing.

Topsy Ojo's 65th-minute try completed Irish's comeback and the visitors held on despite late Bath pressure.

The two points will be a boost to the Exiles, who had seen their play-off bid falter after a run of three straight league defeats.

They welcomed back their England contingent of Shane Geraghty, Paul Hodgson and Steffon Armitage but they were rocked by Bath's electric start.

Lock Hooper scored the first try after 10 minutes, crossing after some powerful approach work from Saxons wing Banahan.

The second score came 10 minutes later with the help of a charge from prop David Flatman.

Flatman charged to within sight of Irish's posts, and after the supporting Hooper was held up, Banahan enjoyed a luxury of touching down with two unmarked team-mates outside him.


Ojo's misplaced clearance kick led to Bath's third, with Banahan and Maddock linking nicely to hand the full-back his score on 27 minutes.

James kicked his first conversion and the home side went in at the break with a 17-0 lead that their slick handling skills and tireless support work deserved.

Irish head coach Toby Booth's team talk must have done the trick as his side soon got on the scoresheet - Mapusua's long pass finding hooker James Buckland who freed Thompstone on an unopposed run to the line.

Armitage should have scored a second but he knocked on with the line at his mercy when he picked up a free ball.

Geraghty did add a penalty and Mapusua pulled the score back to 17-13 with a searing angled run and try.

James gave Bath a seven-point cushion with a penalty but with 15 minutes left Ojo sprinted clear of a sluggish Bath defence to score the vital try with Geraghty's conversion ensuring a tense finish.

Bath boss Steve Meehan:
"I said to the players 'how do you have a 17-0 lead and turn it into a 20-20 draw?' It is not the happiest afternoon.

"At times, we just strolled through the game thinking someone would take care of it.

"Irish's first try was a good one, but their second and third tries should never have come about. Irish are a very good side and you cannot go to sleep against them. To allow them the holes we did was criminal."

Irish head coach Toby Booth:
"After being 17-0 down, that is definitely two points gained. We were fairly average in the first half. We were too passive, and you get punished by good sides.

"We are striving to be a consistent side, and I believe we are now a competitive force in the Premiership."

Booth on Shane Geraghty, who is a target for both French and English clubs:
"We are doing everything we can to keep him. If Shane decides to go, in my mind, it won't be a rugby decision."

Bath: Maddock; Higgins, Crockett, Fuimaono-Sapolu, Banahan; James, Claassens, Browne, Lipman, Beattie, Hooper, Harrison, Bell, Dixon, Flatman.

Replacements: Abendanon for Higgins (60), Berne for Fuimaono-Sapolu (65), Bemand for Claassens (71), Short for Hooper (60), Hawkins for Dixon (65), Jarvis for Flatman (55).

Not Used: Faamatuainu.

London Irish: Tries: Thompstone, Mapusua, Ojo. Cons: Geraghty.

Pens: Geraghty.

London Irish: Homer; Ojo, Seveali'i, Mapusua, Thompstone; Geraghty, Hodgson; Dermody, Buckland, Corbisiero, Hudson, Casey, Thorpe, S. Armitage, Hala'ufia.

Replacements: Coetzee for Buckland (55), Lea'aetoa for Corbisiero (46), Johnson for Casey (76), Danaher for Hala'ufia (46).

Not Used: Richards, Lalanne, Hickey.

Att: 10,600

Ref: Chris White (RFU).

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see also
Worcester 17-34 Bath
14 Feb 09 |  English
Geraghty wants to stay at Exiles
20 Feb 09 |  London Irish
Exiles lose Hewat for two months
19 Feb 09 |  London Irish
Corbisiero signs Exiles contract
19 Feb 09 |  London Irish
Malone agrees London Irish switch
17 Feb 09 |  London Irish
Paice handed ban for verbal abuse
17 Feb 09 |  London Irish
London Irish 9-14 Harlequins
14 Feb 09 |  English

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