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When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister

By beaconsfieldirish
September 11 2017

This little tale commences on the Thursday night before the visit of London Irish to Sandy Park the fine home of Exeter Chiefs the reigning (how appropriate) Premiership champions. Surely one of the golden rules of modern life is never to venture onto the social media late the evening having shared a glass or two in the comfort of ones’ own home. I broke this rule and have ended up responsible for this report. I proffer apologies in advance for all the inaccuracies that may follow and commend the British Broadcasting Corporation website for a more complete factual review.

The beauty of this fixture is the opportunity to go west and visit and stay with friends and/or relatives (not necessarily the same) in the West Country. Heading west along the M4 in the early evening sunshine on Friday gave no indication of what lay ahead.

I must admit to being very fond of this particular away fixture and this time took advantage to stay in the delightful East Devon coastal resort of Budleigh Salterton. First thing Saturday morning I set off for my early morning constitutional in bright sunlight and under blue skies. I was sure the LI boys must have been staying in B.Salt as the High Street was festooned with brightly coloured triangular flags surely welcoming them and me to the backyard of the Chiefs. It was at this point that the weekend started to go downhill when I was advised that the flags were for the Literary Festival and not for our brave little soldiers nor in fact my good self.
Things started to go further south as the rain started to fall as I waited for the bus to Exmouth. When the empty bus arrived I was feeling relatively at one with the world and settled down to watch the scenery go by. At the next stop my world went due south when I was accosted by a very friendly man drinking from his can of strong cider and his collie dog who sat next to me on the entirely empty bus. Some twelve minutes later when we reached Exmouth railway station I knew all about his three wives, his five children and myriad of dogs.

The beautifully scenic train journey from Exmouth along the Exe Estuary was only spoilt by the lashing rain against the train windows but the relatively short walk from the station to the ground was undertaken in the dry and I arrived at Sandy Park full of good cheer. At that very moment the heavens opened up and I adjourned to the Wigwam bar to await the arrival of my knowledgeable travelling companions without whose help the rest of this diatribe would not have occurred.
As ever, the Chiefs fans were warm and welcoming and the Otter flowed. As the noise levels rose in the bar and hearing became a tad more difficult, I had a conversation with 4 Chiefs fans about moving to a new stadium closer to the City centre and sharing it with a football club. I advised them that I thought their existing set up was very good and that they should stay at Sandy Park. The four of them looked very confused as I left.

By now my colleagues had arrived so we had 4 sets of eyes to scrutinise what was clearly now going to be a game played in poor conditions. We sat in row J of the SW Comms Stand and the rain fell and the wind howled into the stand.

The Champions ran out first in lovely shirts with long sleeves with collars. But wait they were blue – yes blue !!! Then the other Champions ran out, took advantage of local knowledge and headed north up the field to take position with the wind behind their backs. That was very clever.
To be fair, I think the first twelve minutes were dry and all virtually all the play was within the Irish 10m line. At that point I leant forward to put my £1 plastic recyclable pint glass down and apparently Slade scored a very good try. Chiefs led by 5.

Then Irma’s little sister paid her first of several visits during the actual game. People in rows A – D rapidly headed back to find any spare seats in row F and behind. The ball morphed into bar of soap and both sides struggled to catch it. At twenty minutes the weather was frankly appalling. Twenty five minutes in and Irish missed a kick to touch and from a subsequent play the referee awarded a penalty try probably for pulling down the maul. At this point I wished that I had invested in a ref link radio. Chiefs by 15.

Thirty two minutes of play and Jack Nowell made an absolutely fantastic pick up of the bar of soap at ankle height and was try line bound except for a similarly superb try saving tackle by Tommy Bell. The pressure was relentless and two minutes later after a referral to the TMO the second Chiefs try was awarded to Armand. Chiefs by 20.

The reminder of the half was a ping pong kicking match.

Half time came and went. Verna Armitage was spotted in the row in front of us still supporting LI and I forewarned all adjacent Chiefs fans that twenty points with that kind of wind was not enough of an advantage. They did not believe me. The Otter who came on at half time had a very neat kick and chase game who maybe the management should consider signing.

The second half began and with the wind behind our backs there was only surely going to be one way traffic.

The wind stopped.

After 53 minutes a rather high tackle by a substantial second row forward led to a penalty. Chiefs by 23.

Fifty seven minutes gone and the rain and wind were back in full force. A sustained period of Irish pressure led to a referral to the TMO about a possible try for Irish. What a waste of time – nowhere near.

Sixty minutes gone and the rain stopped, wind dropped again and blue sky appeared over the East Terrace. The second half had thrown up a much improved Irish performance matching the Chiefs in many aspects but now doubts about fitness levels between Championship and Premiership came to mind,
The next ten minutes gave no indication of discernible difference in stamina. The wind and rain came back with absolute vengeance. The attendance of 8,536 was announced and a rainbow was spotted over the East Terrace, Then Mr Lewington produced a moment of magic and scored the one and only Irish try of the day right in the corner. How Tommy Bell managed to get the conversion from the touchline over the posts is an absolute mystery. Chiefs by 23-7.
At this point in time with the result never in doubt and I will admit to rather losing interest in the game. Irish pressed forward again and I glanced up to see a high looping pass being intercepted by Woodburn for the fourth and bonus point try. Chiefs by 30 -7.

Then Chiefs scored another try with the countdown clock on zero and my waterproof coat fully zipped up and on. Final score 37-7. I left the cover of my seat at which point another large squall descended and I took cover with many others in the Tomahawk Bar.

So in my opinion, Irish well beaten by a better side. Did we really expect anything else against the English champions on their own turf two games into the season? I think not. The pack held their own for the majority of the game and the backs need more cutting edge to make space to enable them to score tries against very solid opposition defences. I think we all knew this already.

As I headed back to the Literary Festival the Tempest returned and I pondered that for our Club to be successful this year and remain in the premiership there are parts of our game where there is Much Ado about Nothing in other areas!!!!

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When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
The Craic (IP Logged)
11/09/2017 14:42
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Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
Griff (IP Logged)
11/09/2017 14:48
Thanks BI, very entertaining. I reckon we must've walked past each other before the match by that account.

Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
Shropshire Hugh (IP Logged)
11/09/2017 16:52
Great read. I love it when the game is just a minor part of the review. Frankly we have all read what players did what and when in the papers and seen the videos on Facebook. So for me this was a good'un!

Live in West Wales, work in England, supporting Scotland and London Irish

Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
Cornish boy (IP Logged)
11/09/2017 19:48
A great writeup.

Thank you for putting in the effort, these kind of reviews are hugely appreciated by those of us unable to attend and I am certain it took more than a couple of minutes to produce!

Thanks again.

Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
waltham (IP Logged)
12/09/2017 08:24
Something of a literary masterpiece :-) .... at this point there ought to have been emoticons inserted...however they don't seem to be awake yet this morning...

Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
Alphacat (IP Logged)
12/09/2017 14:32

Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
Foggy-Balla (IP Logged)
12/09/2017 15:06
Something of a literary masterpiece :-) .... at this point there ought to have been emoticons inserted...however they don't seem to be awake yet this morning...

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"Our prayer is 'God save Ireland' and pour blessings on her name!"

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Re: When Irish Met Irma's Little Sister
waltham (IP Logged)
13/09/2017 07:45
Something of a literary masterpiece :-) .... at this point there ought to have been emoticons inserted...however they don't seem to be awake yet this morning...

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