RUTHLESS London Irish ran in 12 tries as they annihilated Rotherham 82-3 in their final regular-season Greene King IPA Championship game at Madejski Stadium, writes Max Baker-Smith.

The hosts in fact started poorly, giving away an early penalty just outside their own 22. Caoaln Ryan stepped up for Titans and slotted the penalty to put them 3-0 up.

However, this did not last long, as Irish got their hands on the ball for the first time and scored a well-worked try.

The ball was sent wide, before Greig Tonks stabbed through a perfectly-weighted kick for Alex Lewington to show his pace and and touch down, before Tonks slotted an excellent conversion from the corner.

Irish dominated the half from there on, having the lion’s share of the ball and bullying Rotherham with strong defence every time they got their hands on it.

Having won a penalty in the Rotherham half, Tonks uncharacteristically missed a relatively straightforward penalty.

However, Aseli Tikoirotuma crossed soon after for Nick Kennedy’s men after he made an excellent line break and stepped the last man. Tonks atoned for his previous miss and kicked another excellent conversion from the touchline.

Now in complete control of the scoreboard as well as the game, Irish kicked a penalty for the corner from in front of the posts rather than taking the points.

This paid dividends, as they used the territory to eventually cross the line with a driving maul, Blair Cowan being the man to put the ball down. Tonks continued his strong form with the boot to knock the conversion comfortably between the posts.

Rotherham were now becoming sloppy, and almost conceded again less than a minute later, as they knocked the ball on from a needlessly taken quick line out. Irish gathered and looked set to score but good scrambling defence from the visitors prevented Exiles from putting more points on the board.

However, the point scoring was not done for the half. In the dying moments of the opening 40 minutes, the hosts again showed slick hands on a sunny day at the Madejski. They made a line break and recycled the ball quickly, before shipping it out wide to Lewington, who finished well to cross for his second try of the afternoon.

Irish started the second half as strongly as they finished the first. Strong in possession, an exquisite break then offload from Joe Cokanasiga set Brendan Mckibbin away to finish off the move. Tonks converted for Irish as they continued to look very impressive.

With Rotherham barely able to maintain possession for more than a couple of phases, more home points seemed inevitable, and this proved to be the case when Ollie Hoskins crossed off the back of a driving maul. With Tonks slotting another impressive conversion for Irish, they led 42-3.

The points continued to pile up as Cowan now scored his second try of the game as sheer power forced Irish over the try line for him to touch down. Half-time substitute Tommy Bell took over the kicking duties and picked up where Tonks left off as he put the conversion straight between the posts.

As Irish kept the ball the Rotherham penalty count continued to climb before eventually Daz Oliver fell victim to a yellow card half-way through the second period. From the resulting penalty Irish kicked to the corner and scored another try from the lineout, their eighth of the afternoon. Mckibbin crossed for a second time, but the first conversion of the day was missed by Bell.

A weary looking Rotherham continued to try their hearts out, but Irish had too much quality and power. They scored again, this time Tikoirotuma scoring his second from close range, and Bell converted successfully.

Irish were making the most of the man advantage, and another good off-load, this time by substitute Scott Steele, sent Theo Brophy-Clews through to score. Bell put an easy conversion through the posts as the score line started to become a little embarrassing for the Titans.

A 10th try of the day was scored by Tommy Bell, after good work from Lewington and Jebb Sinclair set him free. He converted his own try to send the scoreboard further in Irish’s favour at 75-3.

Lewington than managed to complete his hat-trick in the closing moments, and Tonks, reclaiming the kicking duties, converted for Irish with the last kick of the game.

London Irish visit Doncaster Knights next Saturday (3pm).