Exeter Chiefs have picked up their fifth win of the Aviva Premiership season after suffering a nail-biting second half against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
The Chiefs had led by eight points at half-time, thanks partly to first half tries from Phil Dollman and Luke Arscott. However, an early try from Topsy Ojo, converted by Ian Humphreys, put Irish back in the match at the start of the second half. They briefly took the lead by 23 points to 21, thanks to a penalty from Humphreys. However, Gareth Steenson replied with a penalty of his own to give the advantage back to the Chiefs.
They held that slender lead for most of the second half, until Steenson added another penalty a minute before the end of the match to make the game safe. The Chiefs went ahead in the opening three minutes when, following an Irish clearance, they moved the ball through a number of hands and sent Dollman over in the left hand corner.
Steenson missed the conversion, but added two penalties inside the opening quarter of an hour to give the Chiefs an 11-point lead.
Irish hit back with a penalty from Humphreys, but Steenson added one of his own. Then on 18 minutes good work from Matt Jess saw Arscott barrell his way over for a try, which was converted by Steenson. The rest of the first half was dominated by both sides kicking for territory. Although Irish got back into the match when Humphreys added another penalty. The home side were were then awarded a penalty try ten minutes before the break, which was converted by Humphreys to leave the score at 13-21 to the Chiefs.
Then came Ojo's try at the start of the second half from a clever cross kick up field. A 52-metre penalty from Humphreys then put the Irish in front, but Steenson responded two minutes later with a slightly more kickable penalty in front of the London Irish posts.
Irish had the chance to retake the lead, but Tom Homer missed kicks on 58 and 66 minutes.
So despite some late pressure from the home side, it was Steenson who showed the composure needed to take the points with his penalty kick in the final minute.
Exeter Chiefs: Sturgess, Whitehead, Rimmer, Hayes, Hanks, Mumm, Scaysbrook, Baxter, Thomas, Steenson, Jess, Shoemark, Dollman, Nowells, Arscott. Replacements: Alcott, Moon, Tui. Muldowney, Johnson, Barrett, Mieres, Naqelevuki.