LONDON Irish booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the RFU Championship Cup with a 36-11 victory at Bedford Blues, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles trailed 11-10 at the break, but a superb second-half display ensured they recorded a fourth consecutive victory in the competition.

Bedford took a third-minute lead when Irish were adjudged off side, Lewis Robling knocking over a straightforward penalty.

They extended their lead shortly after, a rolling maul ending with Huw Worthington dotting down for the second time in as many weeks against Exiles.

The visitors struck back on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, though, young wing Ben Loader scoring a brilliant try in which he side-stepped a series of defenders before touching down.

Bedford were reduced to 14 men on 27 minutes when Alex Rae was sin-binned for a high tackle on Fergus Mulchrone, and Irish made their numerical advantage count fairly quickly as Stephen Myler’s looping pass allowed Topsy Ojo to cross the whitewash.

Myler’s attempted conversion struck the uprights, and the home side ensured they would go into half-time with the lead when Robling slotted his second penalty.

Irish came out firing in the second period, taking a lead they would never relinquish in the 42nd minute.

It was their trademark rolling maul which came to the fore, hooker Saia Fainga’a having the simple task of dotting down following a huge heave from the pack.

Myler converted to make it 17-11, and the away side wrapped up the try bonus-point seven minutes later when Dave Porecki touched down with almost his first involvement after coming on as a substitute.

Myler was again on target with the conversion, and Irish scored a fifth try shortly after when Ofisa Treviranus made a barn-storming run before off-loading to Terrence Hepetema to score his first try for the club.

The conversion was added before Irish crossed again in the 62nd minute, this time No. 8 Matt Rogerson showing his strength to power over despite the best efforts of a couple of defenders.

Bedford refused to give up, however, and they put sufficient pressure on Exiles that the visitors lost both Blair Cowan – for a reckless tackle – and Barney Maddison, for an infringement at the breakdown, to the sin-bin in the final 10 minutes.

Yet Irish showed tremendous resolve to keep the hosts at bay and ensure Bedford went pointless in the second period.

London Irish host Hartpury RFC on Sunday (3pm).

Bedford Blues: Lane; Tapley (Adamson, 58), Coulson, Czekaj, Hutler; Robling, Dickson (capt)(Lennon, 56); McCarthy (Trinder, 55), Clare (Fields, 54), Cooper (Penny, 48), Carrick-Smith (Taylor, 48), Flanagan, Curry, Rae, Worthington (Williams, 48)

London Irish: Tonks; Ojo, Mulchrone, Hepetema, Loader; Myler (Atkins, 69), McKibbin (Steele, 56); Reid (Hobbs-Awoyemi, 48), Fainga’a (Porecki, 48), Cilliers (Hoskins, 56), McNally (capt), De Chaves (Maddison, 56), Northcote-Green (Treviranus, 23), Cowan, Rogerson