Challenge Cup: London Irish 18-23 Edinburgh

Conor Gilsenan
Conor Gilsenan scored London Irish's first try just before half-time
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish (10) 18
Tries: Gilsenan, Steele Con: Geraghty Pen: Geraghty 2
Edinburgh (16) 23
Tries: Nel, McKenzie Con: Hidalgo-Clyne 2 Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne 3

Edinburgh reached the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup with a hard-fought victory at London Irish.

The Pro12 side raced into a 16-0 lead courtesy of a converted WP Nel try and three Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalties.

A Shane Geraghty penalty and Conor Gilsenan's try cut Irish's deficit to six points by the break, and they led when Scott Steele crashed over.

But Edinburgh responded through Fraser McKenzie and held on to secure a home date against Newport Gwent Dragons.

There was a dramatic ending to the game, though, as Exiles prop David Paice barged his way over near the posts as the clock went red, with any subsequent conversion a formality.

But the Television Match Official could not see the grounding and referee Pascal Gauzere blew the final whistle to send Edinburgh through.

With their Premiership place secured for next season, defeat leaves London Irish with little to play for, although they showed commendable spirit for fighting back from their early deficit.

Edinburgh celebrate
Edinburgh will host Newport Gwent Dragons at Murrayfield in the semi-finals on Friday, 17 April

Hidalgo-Clyne kicked the Scottish side ahead before Irish had touched the ball after George Skivington was penalised for a high tackle on Tom Heathcote.

Nel powered his way over following a driving maul from a line-out and Hidalgo-Clyne added the conversion and two more penalties, after Geraghty missed with his attempt, to make it 16-0.

But Irish hit back with 18 unanswered points to lead.

Geraghty got them on the board with a penalty and then converted Gilsenan's try, the flanker racing in from 20 metres.

Another Geraghty penalty followed after the break before scrum-half Steele went over in the corner.

But it was Edinburgh who grabbed the decisive score when replacement lock McKenzie forced his way over the line and Hidalgo-Clyne added his fifth successful kick.

London Irish: Fenby; Ojo, Griffin, Sheridan, Lewington; Geraghty, Steele; Court, Paice, Aulika, Skivington, Rouse, Gilsenan, Cowan, Guest.

Replacements: Stevens, Parr, Halavatau, Sinclair, Narraway, Allinson, Noakes, Fowlie.

Edinburgh: Cuthbert; Fife, Burleigh, Strauss, T. Visser, Tonks, Hidalgo-Clyne, Dickinson, Ford, W. Nel, Bresler, Toolis, Grant, Watson, Denton.

Replacements: McInally, Sutherland, Andress, McKenzie, Leonardi, Fowles, Heathcote, Beard.

Sin-bin: Andress (77).

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France).

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