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London Irish 46 Worcester Warriors 24
WARRIORS’ LV= Cup campaign was derailed with a demoralising defeat at Aviva Premiership strugglers London Irish.
Worcester shipped six tries in the process as their semi-final qualification hopes were all but extinguished at the Madejski Stadium.
Impressive former England under 20s winger Marland Yarde ran in a hat-trick for the hosts, while tighthead prop Halani Alukia was also ushered over for a first-half brace.
Number eight Alex Gray wrapped up his side’s bonus point on 54 minutes.
London Irish were handed an unassailable advantage in the game by Warriors’ poor first-up tackling and flimsy defence around the fringes, which allowed the Exiles to race into a 22-3 interval lead.
While Richard Hill’s men were marginally improved after the break, running in three tries through Danny Gray, David Lemi and James Percival, the points also continued to flow for Irish, who were never in danger of closing out victory.
Gray nudged Warriors into an early lead when Irish strayed off-side, but the ultra-reliable boot of Tom Homer levelled matters on 10 minutes.
Irish then took complete control with Yarde making ground down the left touchline, before Aulika burst past Ceri Jones at the side of a ruck to dive over beneath the posts.
Yarde and then Matt Garvey burst through Warriors’ line to take Irish into the 22, before Jonny Arr was forced to run the ball into touch under pressure.
From the line-out, the Warriors pack splintered into two, allowing Aulika to be driven over for his second score.
Shell-shocked Warriors were desperate to reach the break without further damage, but Yarde was awarded his second after an in-goal tussle to ground the ball with Errie Claassens was called in his favour by referee Leighton Hodges.
An early penalty from Homer in the second-half nudged Irish further ahead, but Warriors finally woke from their slumber with Danny Gray, who impressed at number 10 before switching to full-back when Andy Goode was introduced, creating and finishing a good try.
In the build up to Gray’s score, Warriors were camped in the Irish 22 and the hosts offended persistently, which resulted in a yellow card for second row George Skivington.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Irish forced a scrum penalty at the re-start, kicked to touch and Alex Gray was driven over before Homer landed another superb conversion for the Exiles to make it 32-10.
The game opened up even more and became end-to-end with Goode creating a well-taken score for Lemi, before Yarde’s perfectly-timed run onto Shane Geraghty’s clever pass made it five tries for Irish.
Goode again opened up the hosts’ defence to send replacement hooker Ed Shervington close, before quick ball was sent wide for Percival to cross.
However, it was too little too late and Yarde deservedly completed his treble with an awesome turn of pace to scorch onto his own kick ahead and touch the ball down.