LONDON Irish returned to the Aviva Premiership in style with a dramatic 55-48 win against Yorkshire Carnegie on a night of celebration at Madejski Stadium, writes Richard Ashton.

Nick Kennedy’s men made sure of their return to top-flight rugby with a wonderfully entertaining six-try victory - their opponents matched that haul - in the second leg of the Greene King IPA Championship play-off final, securing an 84-66 aggregate win.

On a glorious evening, both sides threw the ball around in a captivating points fest, and it was the hosts who made a dream start inside the first minute.

Canadian international Ciaran Hearn, called up for the suspended Aseli Tikoirotuma, carved his way through a static defence to put his side on the board, though Tommy Bell missed a relatively straightforward conversion.

Carnegie hit back, though, as a loose ball was scooped up by full back Chris Elder, who in turn found Seb Stegmann who just crossed the whitewash despite the best efforts of Hearn. Joe Ford’s conversion put Yorkshire 7-5 in front.

A Ford penalty extended the lead and could have set some nerves among the hosts’ ranks, but a beautiful score eased those.

A powerful maul allowed Brendan McKibbin to free Alex Lewington, who was stopped just shy of the line, only to offload back inside to his scrum half who scooted over.

Yet in an end-to-end encounter it was Yorkshire who then went back in front, former Exile Mike Mayhew finding a huge gap in the home defence to run in from the 22 for a converted try.

A Bell penalty preceded a huge spell of pressure from Irish, who eventually scored their third try – in somewhat controversial circumstances – when David Paice appeared to block Mulchrone from being tackled, only for the centre to dot down. A Ford penalty ensured the visitors stayed in the contest, going into the break 22-20 down.

However, a brilliant start to the second half effectively sealed Irish’s promotion.

Firstly Lewington showed the skills and pace which will surely see him play for England one day. The wing collected Bell’s pass on halfway before scorching out side, cutting back in and beating at least five defenders en route to swan diving over under the posts. Bell added the extras.

McKibbin collected his second score shortly after, sniping over from close range, and Bell’s kick made it 36-20.

Any lingering doubts were ended before the hour mark as Lewington capitalised on a wayward Yorkshire pass to run in from the 22, Bell again successful to put his side 34 points clear on aggregate.

The visitors refused to submit, though, and replacement lock Ben West powered over from close range to score his side’s third try of the night.

Bell kicked a brace of penalties before an increasingy fractious contest saw Carnegie substitute hooker Lewis Boyce sin-binned for a late and dangerous tackle on James Marshall, followed by what looked like a punch. He surely could have seen red.

Bell kept the scoreboard moving and his own tally past the 20-point mark with another penalty, but Yorkshire were the next to add to their score with a penalty try which also saw Tom Court yellow carded. Exiles led 52-34.

Bell landed his fourth successful penalty to go with five conversions as Irish moved 21 points clear on the night, before an ugly brawl – featuring players and support staff – ended with Irish’s double World Cup-winner Ben Franks and opposing prop Charlie Beech receiving red cards.

Sione Faletau then made his way over for the visitors as the game continued at its breakneck pace, and Yorkshire matched Exiles’ tally of six tries when Stegmann went over from close range.

Another scuffle came about in the final minute of the game, but it could not dampen a delighted atmosphere round the stadium as full time was called and Irish returned to the big time, with games against the likes of Wasps, Leicester and Saracens to come next season.