London Irish finished the regular season 17 points clear at the top of the Championship

Greene King IPA Championship play-off semi-final first legDoncaster Knights (3) 3Pens: FlockhartLondon Irish (10) 35Tries: Paice 2, Tikoirotuma 2, Lewington, De Chaves Con: Bell Pen: Bell

London Irish will take a handsome lead into the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final after a 35-3 win over Doncaster Knights.

Irish, bidding to return to the Premiership at the first attempt, ran in six tries at blustery Castle Park.

Captain David Paice scored a brace either side of half-time, as did centre Aseli Tikoirotuma, with Alex Lewington and Sebastian de Chaves also crossing.

Doncaster’s Aaron Carpenter and Paul Jarvis were sin-binned after the break.

The two sides will meet in the return leg on Saturday at the Madejski Stadium for a place in the final.

Doncaster, who have made themselves ineligible for promotion on financial grounds, almost scored the first try when Dougie Flockhart just failed to touch down before the dead ball line after a clever cross-field kick from Simon Humberstone.

Irish captain Paice was not to be denied soon after when he got underneath a rolling maul after Doncaster were penalised for hands in the ruck.

And Tikoirotuma added a second in the left corner following a break by Ofisa Treviranus.

Flockhart, who missed his first attempt off the tee in windy conditions, put Doncaster on the board before half-time with a penalty after Irish indiscipline at the breakdown.

Lewington gave Irish the perfect start to the second half when he broke through under the posts from Fergus Mulchrone’s neat pass for their third try, and then Paice added his second of the game, and a potentially tie-deciding score, on 50 minutes.

After Jarvis’ yellow card for a dangerous tackle, Irish again made the numerical advantage count when De Chaves added a fifth and Scott Steele combined with Tikoirotuma for the final score two minutes from time.

Doncaster: Jarvis, Flockhart, Bulumakau, Hayes, Lewis, Humberstone, Heaney; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Young, Shaw, Hills, Carpenter.

Replacements: Bergmanas, Nelson, W John, Williams, D Clark, Edgerley, Cusack.

London Irish: Bell, Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Mulchrone, Cokanasiga, Marshall, McKibbin; Hobbs-Awoyemi, Paice, Franks, De Chaves, Sinclair, Coman, Cowan, Treviranus.

Replacements: Porecki, Court, Hoskins, Robson, Gilsenan, Steele, Tonks.

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