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London Irish outside-half Shane Geraghty is expecting Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo to be a different animal at home in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
The Italian side suffered the biggest ever defeat by a Welsh club in last weekend’s 104-12 thumping at the hands of Cardiff Blues at the BT Sport Arms Park. But Rovigo have been much improved at their Stadio Mario Battaglini home.
They suffered a last-ditch 20-17 defeat to Grenoble after leading the French side 12-5. Irish’s only defeat in the competition so far came away from home against the Cardiff Blues, but they have rallied since round four to claim two victories.
The Exiles are in pole position to claim a spot in the quarter-finals with 19 points from five rounds of matches. But they cannot afford to slip up as the Blues head into their final pool match against Grenoble level on points at the top of Pool One.
“If you look at their home games, they lost to a last-minute try to Grenoble and Cardiff only beat them by 15 points in the end,” said Geraghty.
“It's not going to be a walk in the park. They have got a good forward pack and they play some good rugby. We are not buying too much into their result away at Cardiff. It would be silly to read too much into that.
“The prospect of a trophy is massive motivation. We have perhaps not been involved in knockout rugby for quite a while now and that is certainly one of our motivating factors.”
- London Irish scored 70+ points in each of their home games against Rovigo in this tournament, but managed just 23 in Italy in their 2009 meeting.
- Rovigo have lost their last 33 games in the Challenge Cup.
- The Exiles have won all 15 of their games against Italian opposition in the Challenge Cup, averaging 47 points per game.
- London Irish missed just three tackles when they met Rovigo earlier in the season whilst the Italian side missed a total of 41.
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Flanker Ofisa Treviranus scored a hat-trick as London Irish’s 34-6 triumph over Rovigo confirmed them as Challenge Cup Pool 1 winners.
Irish knew they were guaranteed to reach the last eight following Edinburgh’s win over Bordeaux-Begles on Friday night, but they made sure they will have home advantage in the next round with a convincing success.
Treviranus’ try treble, with wings James Short and Topsy Ojo also crossing, was complemented by nine points from the boot of Shane Geraghty. Rovigo’s points came courtesy of two penalties from full-back Stefan Basson.
Irish had scored 70 points when hosting Rovigo in round one, but the Italians signalled their intention to make this a more testing examination with a combative start.
Basson slotted a penalty after Halani Aulika was sin-binned for a high tackle, and it took the Exiles time to settle against a determined Rovigo pack.
But Treviranus settled any nerves when the Samoan sniffed a gap in the fringe defence and surged over in the 25th minute, with Geraghty adding the extras.
Basson kicked his second penalty to trim the lead to one, but Geraghty replied with a three-pointer of his own to put the visitors 10-6 to the good at the interval.
The game remained close during the third quarter, but Short’s well-worked score opened the floodgates as the home side began to tire.
Treviranus finished off some patient build-up and Ojo cantered over moments later to secure the bonus-point, while there was still time for the flanker to round off the scoring and claim his hat-trick.
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