A LATE Tommy Bell penalty helped London Irish snatch a dramatic 23-22 Greene King IPA Championship victory at Ealing Trailfinders as the table-toppers made it 14 wins from as many games.

For the second week in a row Exiles started slowly and Phil Chesters drew first blood for the hosts as he finished off a fine attacking move to go over in the corner.

Aaron Pentherby missed with his attempted conversion and it was not long before Bell, the division’s top point scorer, reduced the arrears with a penalty.

Irish moved in front on 17 minutes when fly half James Marshall crossed the whitewash, Bell adding the extras to put the visitors 10-5 to the good.

Ealing fought back gamely, however, and it was only some resolute defence which kept Nick Kennedy’s men in front, Ofisa Treviranus in particular putting in one massive tackle.

After weathering the storm, Exiles could have moved further in front on the stroke of half-time as Fergus Mulchrone collected a Marshall chip, only for Ealing’s defence to just about cut out the danger.

Ealing reduced the deficit early in the second half when Pentherby stroked over a penalty, but the visitors hit back on 52 minutes when all-time leading try-scorer Topsy Ojo added to his tally after taking a beautiful inside ball from Marshall. Bell was again successful from the tee and Irish led 17-8.

Yet, just as they had done in defeat to Ospreys Premiership Select, London Irish failed to kick on and saw their lead reduced when Llewelyn Jones picked up at the base of a ruck to go over for Ealing’s second try. Pentherby’s conversion meant the gap was just two points.

Bell smashed over a 35-yard penalty into the wind just after the hour mark to push Irish five points in front, but they fell behind when Chesters grabbed his second of the afternoon by sprinting clear of the Irish defence. Pentherby’s boot made it 22-20.

Yet the visitors continued to battle away and regained the lead in a topsy-turvy battle when the irrepressible Bell took his personal total to 11 points with another penalty on 71 minutes.

Both sides continued to battle hammer and tongs for a final score, but Exiles held out to maintain their unbeaten league record.

London Irish return to Madejski Stadium when they host Nottingham next Sunday (3pm).