The IRFU Exiles Under-18 and Under-19 squads have had a busy month in September, starting and ending with victories.
The month commenced with the Exiles Under-18s taking on Ulster in the beautiful setting of Campbell College in Belfast, on Saturday, September 3.
The match resulted in a resounding 45-5 victory for the Exiles. Tries were scored by lock Richard Littlejohn, full-back Alex Webb, lock Luke Connolly, centre Adam King, winger James Deehan, plus two from number 8 Frankie Taggart.
The conversions were slotted by out-half Sean O’Hagan and replacement out-half Oliver Weir (4). Despite the scoreline, Ulster played very competitively and deserved their consolation try.
On Sunday, September 11, the Exiles Under-19s faced Munster in their opening Interrrovincial match at the London Irish grounds in Sunbury. A minute’s silence was observed prior to the game in memory of the victims of 9/11.
A rather disjointed start to the game was marked by the Exiles taking two strikes against the head in scrums, from which they could not capitalise.
A period of sustained Munster pressure followed, resulting in them gaining a 10-0 lead. A penalty from out-half Josh Tolan relieved the pressure and made the half-time score 10-3.
The second half started with a great solo try from their openside, but the Exiles hit back almost immediately with a well-deserved try from Exiles man-of-the-match and left winger James McLoughlin to make it 17-8. Munster hit back with an opportunist try and a further penalty to make the final result 27-8.
The following Sunday, at Donnybrook, the Exiles U-19s faced Leinster and, though they went 9-0 down and missed four penalty kicks at goal, they were unquestionably the better team.
A try from centre Ned Brown, converted by out-half Tolan, made it 9-7. The Exiles were dominating and the match looked eminently winnable when the referee decided on 64 minutes that Brown had committed an offence and he was shown a red card.
Despite the Exiles battling bravely with 14 men, Leinster seized their opportunities to exploit the gaps that inevitably appeared to run out 26-7 winners.
On the final Sunday in September the Exiles U-19s played Ulster at West Park RFC in St. Helen’s. Injuries and the start of the university year made for a much-changed Exiles squad, which tested the breadth and depth of the Exiles system.
The only try of the first half came from out-half Gareth Nash, converted by centre Tolan. Early in the second half the Exiles defence was breached to level the scores.
The winning score for the Exiles came through a try from debutant lock Eoin Lewis, sealing a 12-7 win for the home side. All the Exiles management and coaching team were very pleased with such a battling win.
The results of the past month augur well for the future; two wins and two defeats suggest a level par month but does not tell the full story.