LONDON Irish made an encouraging start to their Championship campaign with a 19-0 victory against last season’s runners-up at Madejski Stadium.

Nick Kennedy’s men made the perfect start when they earned a third-minute penalty for a high tackle on Tom Fowlie, new signing Tommy Bell landing a fine kick from 15 metres to the right of the uprights.

The former Leicester Tiger – who was impressive throughout – doubled the lead 10 minutes later with a more straightforward effort, this time for a high tackle on Johnny Williams, and Bell made it 9-0 inside the first quarter after Doncaster infringed at the scrum.

Exiles continued to control the game and were somewhat unfortunate not to be awarded a try when Blair Cowan dotted down at the back of a rolling maul, only for referee Craig Maxwell-Keys to rule that it had been stationary for too long.

Aseli Tikoirotuma made a searing break down the left flank only to spill the ball when tackled by Paul Jarvis, and Doncaster then enjoyed a brief period of pressure on the Exiles line.

However, after Harry Allen dropped the ball three metres from the whitewash, Williams made a fabulous break from the resulting scrum to take play into the Doncaster half.

A penalty allowed Bell to kick to the corner, and another powerful maul drew enough Doncaster players into contact to allow Fowlie to weave his was over the line for his side’s opening try of the campaign. Bell missed a straightforward conversion but Exiles led 14-0.

Fowlie then showed his quick feet to dance through again shortly before half time, only for his inside pass to fail to find a teammates hand as Irish went into the break two converted scores clear.

The visitors has another spell of pressure at the start of the second period, but Dougie Lockhart missed a simple penalty earned at the scrum.

That proved costly as Exiles moved further ahead shortly afterwards. A powerful rolling maul went all the way from the Doncaster 22 to the brink of the try line, and when the ball was spread wide, Fowlie and Greig Tonks combined to set Tikoirotuma free down the left and he barrelled over. Bell’s missed conversion from the touchline left the score 19-0.

Both sides made a raft of substitutions as the rain became progressively heavier, with the majority of play coming in midfield.

Irish debutant Ben Ransom almost made an immediate impact after coming off the bench, sprinting 50 metres before being hauled down inside the Doncaster 22. The ball was then recycled out to Fowlie on the left wing, who crossed only for the score to be wiped off for a Tonks’ forward pass.

Another chance came from the final play of the game as Ransom dived for a Bell grubber, only to slide out of play before he had the chance to dot down and cap an impressive cameo.

London Irish host Richmond next Saturday (3pm).