Wing Michael Dykes scored a hat-trick on his Premiership debut as London Irish boosted their play-off hopes with an excellent 42-24 triumph over 14-man Harlequins on Sunday.
The Exiles raced out of the blocks and went 14-0 in front through Chandler Cunningham-South and Dykes tries before the visitors were awarded a penalty try.
However, when Quins had Stephan Lewis sent off for a dangerous clearout and James Stokes went over soon after, it was pretty much game over.
Tommaso Allan did cross the whitewash for Tabai Matson’s men, but Dykes completed his hat-trick either side of the break and Tom Pearson also scored to seal a fine win for Irish.
Harlequins claimed a try bonus-point thanks to Josh Bassett and Dino Lamb tries, but it was another disappointing day for the 2021 Premiership champions.
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Irish began strongly to take a fourth-minute lead. Twice they declined kicks at goal in favour of attacking line-outs and were rewarded when Cunningham-South crashed over from the second.
Three minutes later the hosts scored again when Stokes made the initial burst before feeding Pearson, whose pass provided Dykes with an easy run-in.
Paddy Jackson converted both for his side to have a 14-0 lead at the end of one-sided first 15 minutes but Quins finally got a foothold in the match.
A strong run from Nick David secured the visitors a platform in the Irish 22 before they were awarded a penalty try when Dykes deliberately knocked on to prevent a score from David.
The Irish wing was yellow-carded but immediately they received a boost when Stokes capitalised on a favourable bounce to run 30 metres to score.
After Jackson had converted, TMO replays showed a dangerous challenge from Lewies and the Quins’ flanker was sent off.
The home side then suffered two blows in quick succession. Australia international lock Adam Coleman departed with a serious arm injury before David tore their defence to shreds to create a try for Allan.
Dykes returned from the sin-bin before Irish received a further setback when prop Will Goodrick-Clarke departed with a leg injury.
However, they overcame this to score their bonus-point try from Dykes with another successful kick from Jackson giving Irish a 28-12 interval lead.
Hat-trick hero 🏉🏉🏉
Michael Dykes grabs his third of the afternoon to put @londonirish further ahead 🙌
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 29, 2023
Four minutes after the restart, Dykes supported a break from Ben White to complete his hat-trick before Irish introduced Henry Arundell for his first appearance since October.
Spirited Quins remained in the fight when first a clean break from Andre Esterhuizen created a try for Bassett before Lamb forced his way over to earn a bonus point.
Irish’s nerves were jangling but Joe Marler was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul to put an end to any hopes of a remarkable Quins comeback, with a late try from Pearson sealing victory.
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