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London Irish 31-31 Sale: Hosts fight back from 17 points down to secure thrilling draw

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London Irish 31-31 Sale: Paddy Jackson’s last-gasp penalty hits the post as hosts fight back from 17 points down to secure thrilling draw

  • Sale ran in four tries to secure a bonus point and lead 31-14 at half-time
  • Tom Parton went over twice for Irish before Curtis Rona’s try levelled it
  • Paddy Jackson had chance to win it for the hosts but his penalty hit the post 

What is it with Brentford and mad-cap draws?

Twenty-four hours after Yoane Wissa sent the Community Stadium spare equalising against Liverpool, London Irish pulled off a remarkable result of their own coming back from 17-points down to end all-square with Sale.

But it was heart-breaking for them, as Paddy Jackson’s last second penalty struck a post from 55 metres out which would have won the game.

Curtis Rona’s try levelled it for London Irish with four minutes to go against Sale Sharks

Irish had entered half-time 31-14 down, Sale cruising with 14 points from AJ MacGinty – including a try – and scores from Sam James, Marland Yarde and Will Cliff as they wrapped up the bonus-point early.

But then the Sharks collapsed, pointless in the second half with Tom Parton running in two tries and Curtis Rona their key fifth – if only Jackson had kicked a pair of conversions and penalties the Exiles would have sewn it all up.

‘What you saw from Brentford is a team that fights for everything and we fought for everything too,’ said Irish coach Les Kiss.

‘We were the masters of our own grief at times.

Fly-half Paddy Jackson kicked three conversions but his late penalty hit the post

Fly-half Paddy Jackson kicked three conversions but his late penalty hit the post

‘The second half defence was superb but we left a bit out there. There is a sense of frustration.’

Having thrown it away Sale boss Alex Sanderson said: ‘We were banging our heads into brick walls in the end.

‘We should have put the ball in Manu Tuilagi’s hands more in that second-half as his timing was back to the glory days.’

It would take plenty for this to match Brentford’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool from the night before. Unlike the Bees, Irish were well behind at home before the rescue job.

An early Tuilagi burst led to a quick MacGinty try, before Will Cliff conjured.

London Irish came back from 17 points down to draw a thriller with Sale on Sunday

London Irish came back from 17 points down to draw a thriller with Sale on Sunday

In for the late withdrawal Raffi Quirke, who hyper-extended his knee last week, failed a late fitness test but was able to join up with England in Teddington today (MON), he was everywhere.

First he kept a ball in play which led to Yarde waltzing in, then before half-time nipped down the blind-side for a clever try of his own.

Irish No 9 Ben White, a tap-and-go, and hooker Agustin Creevy, after fine offloading, had tries but Irish were well behind. They saw Rob Simmons sin-binned for a late-hit too, which injured MacGinty and perhaps turned the tide.

As after the break Sale looked listless, as Irish shone in the sun.

Yoane Wissa secured a thrilling 3-3 draw for Brentford against Liverpool on Saturday night

Yoane Wissa secured a thrilling 3-3 draw for Brentford against Liverpool on Saturday night

Parton scored neatly down the right wing, and despite Jackson hitting the post with the conversion, Irish were buoyed.

The occasion needed them to score again and set up a fun finish, and with 13 minutes left finally, it happened.

After 20 of huffing and puffing, Irish blew the house down with Parton racing in when Sale were down to 14 after Jono Ross had been sin-binned for tackling Sean O’Brien without the ball.

Jackson missed the conversion, again, so Irish needed a seven-pointer to draw and emulate their Premier League hosts. Curtis Rona had it, with Jackson hitting the wide kick to raptures by Kew Bridge.

The fly-half had a chance to win it, but when his penalty agonisingly hit the post West London was home to a high-scoring draw again.

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