LONDON IRISH powered past Richmond 46 – 7 to wrap up promotion with a game to spare at the weekend.
Early tries by Albert Tuisue, Bryce Campbell and Ben Loader (2) put the Exiles in total control after Jesse Liston went over for the home side early on.
The pressure on the hosts never relented and TL Loane (2), Josh McNally and Alivereti Veitokani closed out the game in style, much to the delight of the large London Irish contingent in the ground.
Relegation last year was a bitter pill to swallow, but the Exiles have regrouped and would be confident of making an impression in the top flight even with the current personnel.
When you add Seán O’Brien and Australian internationals Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona to that already potent mix, mere consolidation next year would sell this group short.
Former Ireland international Ian Keatley has added another dimension to the Exile’s attacking threat since joining on a short-term deal earlier in the year.
He won’t be part of the journey to the next phase of the club’s development – he links up with Italian side Treviso next season.
But he has seen enough to know the club are moving in the right direction.
“You can just tell by the passion and the way the players talk here,” he said. “They want to go up and they want to stay up.
"They really want to build that Irish connection again, and I think that’s what they are trying to do bringing in a few Irish players. And maybe a bit of that has been lost and it’s nice to see they are trying to bring Irish players over again.
"There are fantastic players here, when you come in the door and see the likes of Topsy Ojo , who has been here for 15 years, it’s incredible. He has been an unbelievable player for the club and playing with lads like him has been a great experience for me.”