LONDON Irish produced a superb display to win their opening Gallagher Premiership game of the season 29-26 at Wasps – only their second top-flight away win in the past four-and-a-half years.

Exiles fell behind to a ninth-minute Lima Sopoaga penalty, but hit back immediately as Blair Cowan powered his way over from close range after Ollie Hassell-Collins had broken down the left touchline.

Sopoaga and Paddy Jackson exchanged penalties, but Wasps went back in front when Zach Kibirige magnificently dotted down in the right-hand corner.

Another Jackson penalty levelled matters before Exiles hit the front when Albert Tuisue showed his power to crash over the line.

Kibirige went over for a second try of the afternoon, but another Jackson penalty ensured Exiles led 19-16 at the interval.

Declan Kidney's men extended their advantage three minutes into the second period when Cowan's long pass found Hassell-Collins, and the Academy graduate showed his pace to scorch home from 55 metres out.

Jackson converted from the touchline to extend the lead to 10 points, and when the Irish fly-half landed another penalty, it was 29-16 on 55 minutes.

Wasps, however, rallied, and it required a stunning cover tackle from Tom Parton to stop Kibirige completing his hat-trick.

The hosts did cross through Dan Robson, though, and with Sopoaga converting, the gap was cut to 29-23.

His replacement, Jacob Umaga, added a 73rd-minute penalty to further heighten the drama, but Exiles showed tremendous fight to hang on for victory.

And man-of-the-match Cowan believes it will boost his side's belief, stating: "We are all pretty happy off the back of that. To come up against a side like Wasps, with a group of quality players, a team we have the utmost respect for and to win here is huge for us.

“It will do wonders for our confidence, but we still have plenty to work on.

"We have confidence because everyone has been on the same page from the start of pre-season and understanding what we are about.

"If you’ve got a few chinks in the chain, you won’t be able to implement that game plan, but this year there is such a united feel and it shows out there with our game plan and trying to do stuff.”

The Scottish international did issue a warning, however, concluding: "We only really played for three-quarters of the match and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves in the final quarter which you can’t afford to do that against a quality team like Wasps. We will look at those things and improve for next week.”

London Irish are at home to Sale Sharks on Saturday (3pm).