First win for Irish
Relieved Exiles end three-game losing streak
Last Updated: 22/09/12 5:47pm
London Irish climbed off the foot of the Aviva Premiership thanks to their first win of the season, a 29-22 victory over fourth-placed Bath.
Irish centre Steve Shingler kicked 19 of his side's points, with five penalties and conversions following tries from Halani Aulika and Jonathan Joseph.
Bath's only touchdown was from wing Kyle Eastmond, while Olly Barkley, playing his last away game for his club prior to his move to French outfit Racing Metro, landed five penalties and a conversion.
Irish fly-half Ian Humphreys made his first start for the Exiles, as did Tongan prop Aulika. Lock Matt Garvey and flanker Jamie Gibson were drafted back into the side from the team beaten 43-14 at London Wasps last week.
Barkley was switched to the centre from fly-half instead of Ben Williams, who failed a late fitness test, while South African flanker Francois Louw was also a late withdrawal with Ben Skirving coming in off the bench.
It was an unusual experience for former Irish head coach Toby Booth to be with the opposition at the Madejski Stadium as an assistant at Bath.
Barkley and Shingler exchanged a pair of penalties apiece in the opening exchanges with Irish showing good enterprise as the backs found gaps and only a couple of good tackles prevented them reaching the Bath danger zone.
Shingler was deadly accurate with his boot and, having landed his earlier kicks from 30 and 45 metres, put his third over to give Irish the lead for the first time at 9-6, again from 45 metres.
Bath regained the lead with a well-worked try. Full-back Nick Abendanon was involved twice in a passing movement on the left as Bath tore upfield from halfway.
With the Irish defence stretched, Abendanon was tackled 15 metres out but managed to flip the ball inside to Eastmond for the former St Helens and England rugby league flyer to go over.
Barkley converted to give Bath a four-point advantage, but in the dying moments of the half, Irish attacked and found their way deep into the home 22 where, from a line-out, the pack drove prop Aulika over.
Shingler added the conversion, and it would have been a very much happier Irish head coach Brian Smith who went to encourage his troops after the past few weeks of woe.
Barkley booted his third penalty just after the re-start but a great backs move from a line-out saw wing Marland Yarde charge through into the midfield and feed Joseph to steam home outside him.
Shingler's conversion stretched the Irish lead to 10 points and suddenly they were in range of victory.
The Exiles did not help themselves when flanker Jamie Gibson was sin-binned for a ruck offence as Bath piled on the pressure inside the home 22 but the 14-man Irish cleared their decks.
Barkley's fourth and fifth penalties of the afternoon gave Bath hope of taking the victory, needing only a try to take the lead again.
But a moment of indiscipline after 71 minutes was the killer blow as Shingler booted his last penalty, stretching Irish's lead to seven points, and a strong defensive effort at the end ensured a much-needed home success.