LONDON Irish produced a solid display as they knocked Coventry out of the RFU Championship Cup with a 27-17 quarter-final victory at Madejski Stadium, writes Richard Ashton.

It was the visitors who made the early breakthrough against the run of play, a Greig Tonks pass intercenpted by wing Andy Bulumakau who sprinted half the length of the field to dot down. Will Maisey added the extras to put his side 7-0 up.

The Irish response was swift and emphatic, however, with prop Harry Elrington barging over from close range just six minutes later. Jacob Atkins converted to level the scores.

Exiles moved in front at the end of the first quarter, their forwards again carrying well before skipper-for-the-day Barney Maddison cut a fine line before diving over. Atkins was again successful from the tee to give his side a seven-point advantage.

Coventry thought they had scored for the second time midway through the half when a clever chip ahead from left wing Junior Bulumakau stopped inside the dead ball line where Ben Nutley got the ball down, only for the assistant referee to deem he had placed a foot in touch as he attempted the score.

And it was the home side who extended their lead three minutes before the break, a series of drives inside the Coventry 22 ending with the visitors going off side. Atkins again bisected the posts the put Declan Kidney’s side 17-7 in front going into half-time.

Coventry continued to battle though, and reduced the arrears courtesy of a Maisey penalty on 53 minutes, Exiles penalised for not rolling away at the ruck.

Irish reasserted themselves, however, and grabbed a crucial third try just after the hour mark. A wonderful inside ball from Atkins allowed his fellow youngster Ben Loader to burst from the left wing and scythe through the visitors defence before crossing the whitewash to the right of the uprights. Atkins made it four successful kicks from four as Exiles extended their lead to 24-10.

Yet Coventry refused to give up, and with five minutes to go, Nutley got the try his excellent performance deserved. The visitors built their phases patiently in and around the Irish 22, and when the ball was spread into midfield, the flanker cut a superb line to burst through the Exiles defence and dot down. Maisey landed the conversion to reduce the gap to seven points and potentially set up a nervy final ending.

However, some wonderful work from man-of-the-match Lovejoy Chawatama won Irish a penalty almost immediately after the restart, the all-action prop forcing the away side to hold onto the ball in a ruck in front of their posts. Atkins was again on target and with Exiles 10 points ahead, the game was effectively over.

Coventry battled to the end, though, and could have grabbed a late consolation with Maddison in the sin-bin, only for more wonderful work from Chawatama to win his side a penalty on their own try line and signal the end of the game and a place in the last four.

London Irish return to Greene King IPA Championship action next Saturday (3pm), when they travel to in-form Bedford Blues.

London Irish: Tonks, Ojo, Fowlie, Williams, Loader (Hassell-Collins, 77), Atkins, McKibbin (Steele, 55), Elrington (Saulo, 61), Fainga’a (Adams, 61), Chawatama, Maddison (c), De Chaves (Twomey, 55), Northcote-Green (Gilsenan, 55), Curtis-Harris (Ioane, 55), Treviranus.

Coventry: Halaifonua, J. Bulumakau, Knox, Stevens, A. Bulumakau, Maisey, Beech, Nilsen (c), Brighouse, Jubb, Faleafa, Adams, Nutley, Peters.