London Irish 42-42 Wasps: Henry Arundell triggers a four-try recovery as Exiles rise from the dead
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The youngest rugby wonderboy, Henry Arundell, came off the bench to spark a sensational Irish comeback in London and left Wasps red-faced.
The uncapped teenager, who qualifies for England, Scotland, Wales and Cyprus, was thrown into the fray by Irish 39-14 down in the final 15 minutes.
In front of England boss Eddie Jones, the full-back dropped his first ball wide and then inspired a stunning four-try finish.
“Pretty good, isn’t it,” said Wasps boss Lee Blackett. “He came and made a big difference. We’re gutted. It feels like a great loss.”
There was little sign of what was to come as Zach Kibirige scored Wasps’ fifth try to stop the Irish tumbling from conceding 32 unanswered points.
Tom Pearson pulled back a try, but it seemed like little more than consolation until Arundell cracked the Wasps defense, winning the race to the ball and puncturing down.
He had scored two goals midweek as the Exiles beat Leicester to reach the Premiership Cup final and before that he played for England Under-20s with four in the Six Nations.
That form lured Jones to Brentford Community Stadium, where the Australian was seriously considering taking him on a tour Down Under a year after the World Cup.
With Scotland also in the circle, Arundell has a choice to make and his shares certainly rose in the final moments here as he fed a goal pass to Ollie Hassell-Collins.
That put Irish within a point and when they were awarded a penalty after the buzzer they went into the corner and mauled the ball onto the line where Joe Launchbury had infringed to give up the penalty attempt.
There had never been such a high-scoring draw in Premier League history and broadcaster BT Sport pounced on Arundell to make him player of the match.
Ireland boss Declan Kidney refused to go overboard in relation to his academy starlet, whom he wisely tries to protect in the early stages of his career.
“There is definitely interest [from England] But Henry is the first to know that there are parts of his game that he needs to work on,” Kidney said.
“What you don’t want is him getting a cap or two, isn’t it better if he comes in as a full package?
“I’m sure those in power will do the right thing with the kid because he has talent.
“He’s held up very well so far and if he continues to do that I have no doubt these kinds of doors will open.”
IRISH – Attempts: Rowe, Parton, Pearson, Arundell, Hassell-Collins, Penalty. Disadvantages: jackson 5
WASPS – Experiments: Oghre, Hougaard 2, Atkinson, Kibirige. Disadvantages: Goppert 4. Pencils: Goepperth 2, Umaga.
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