Having lost in extra-time to Worcester least year, London Irish suffered another extra-time defeat in the Premiership Cup final as Aidon Davis’ try secured a 24-20 win for the Exeter Chiefs; Irish’s wait for a trophy stretches to 21 years, while Exeter add to their 2014 and 2018 wins
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/03/23 6:13pm
London Irish hearts were broken for a second year in a row as an extra-time try from Exeter Chiefs flanker Aidon Davis saw the Premiership Cup snatched from their grasp, extending their long wait for a trophy.
Last season Worcester deprived them of success by scoring more tries in a 25-25 draw, but Irish looked set to end their 21-year drought this time round until a late yellow card for flanker Josh Basham turned the game Exeter’s way, with the Chiefs ultimately running out 24-20 winners – adding to their cup wins in 2014 and 2018.
For Irish, outside-half Jacob Atkins converted both of their tries scored by hooker Ignacio Ruiz, while he also added two penalties.
Jack Innard, Josh Iofesa-Scott and Davis scored Exeter’s tries, with Iwan Jenkins kicking a conversion and a penalty, along with Joe Simmonds adding two conversions.
A brilliant run from Exeter’s Tom Wyatt secured his side an early attacking platform. Fielding a ball deep in his own half, the full-back easily evaded two defenders but, despite a period of sustained pressure, Irish were able to keep their line intact.
With their first incursion into the Chiefs’ 22, the home side then took the lead after 15 minutes when Ruiz crashed over from a line-out drive.
That converted try was the only score of a lively opening quarter, with Irish possessing the dominant scrum but their malfunctioning line-out allowed Exeter’s enterprising backs the opportunity to flourish.
A high penalty count in the Chiefs’ favour was also helping their cause and so it came as no surprise when they levelled the scores as captain Innard forced his way over from close range.
After 33 minutes, Exeter suffered two blows in quick succession. Firstly, prop Danny Southworth was yellow-carded for a high challenge on No 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o, allowing for Irish to capitalise with a second try for Ruiz.
Atkins converted before Jenkins then kicked a 40-metre penalty to reduce the arrears and see Irish head into half-time with a 14-10 lead.
Southworth returned from the sin bin just in time to see his side fall further behind when Atkins kicked a penalty awarded for a deliberate knock-on by Chiefs No 8 Rus Tuima.
The penalty was the only score of an evenly contested third quarter, with Exeter bringing on the experience of Ollie Devoto, Jannes Kirsten and Simmonds in an attempt to turn the tide in their favour.
With seven minutes remaining, Irish lost flanker Basham to the sin bin for a high challenge on centre Sean O’Brien and it proved costly as Iosefa-Scott crashed over, with a conversion from Simmonds taking the game into extra-time.
Exeter lost Kirsten to a head injury assessment before Basham returned in time to see his side regain the lead with a simple penalty from Atkins.
However, Irish bungled the restart for Davis to finish off a period of pressure, with a conversion from Simmonds sealing victory and despair for Irish.