BEN Franks scored two tries as London Irish made it 15 Greene King IPA Championship wins in a row with a hard-fought 29-20 victory at home to London Scottish this afternoon.

Exiles had won the corresponding fixture 62-12 earlier in the season, but they were made to fight all the way by a visiting side who were tenacious and competitive throughout.

Nick Kennedy’s men made the ideal start inside the opening five minutes as their ever-impressive driving maul harvested yet another try – a pre-cursor of what was to follow.

After kicking to the corner, the forwards got to work and Franks dotted down at to open the scoring, Greig Tonks missing the conversion.

Irish’s discipline was poor in the opening quarter, though, and of the four penalties they conceded two were kickable, Peter Lydon landing both to put Scottish 6-5 in front.

However, Exiles’ hit back and earned a penalty at the scrum on their opponents five-metre line, the ball again going to the corner and again resulting in a try from the back of a maul, captain David Paice the beneficiary this time. Tonks landed the extras.

The remainder of the first half proved something of an error-strewn affair as the rain continued to fall, but the returning Alex Lewington – making his first start of the season on comeback from a lengthy knee injury – showed his speed when chipping ahead and forcing Lydon to body check him. The full back was yellow carded, Irish kicked to the corner and Franks scored Irish’s third try from a pushover on the stroke of half time. Tonks’ kick made it 19-6 at the break.

Scottish started the second half well and scored their first try of the game early on. A strong rolling maul of their own allowed time for Harry Sheppard to dab a deft chip over the Irish defence, and Auguy Slowik finished superbly by dotting down just as the ball looked like it might run dead. The returning Lydon converted to make it 19-13.

Slowik almost scored a second immediately after as he intercepted and cleared ahead, only to spill the ball over the try line as he tried to ground it.

Irish hit back immediately and secured their bonus point when Johnny Williams superbly took a pass behind him and jinked his way over, Tonks’ conversion extending the lead back to 13 points.

Scottish would not give up, though, and after Luke Narraway was sin-binned for killing the ball in his own 22, the visitors earned a push-over of their own from a maul, Dave Cherry bagging the try on 74 minutes. Lydon’s conversion set up a frantic last six minutes.

However, the hosts re-gathered and controlled the closing stages, hammering away at the line as Scottish continued to defend stoutly.

Eventually, though, the away side conceded a penalty and Tonks slotted the kick with the last play of the game to deprive his opponents a losing bonus point.

London Irish are now 15 points clear of Yorkshire Carnegie, who they travel to next Sunday (3pm).