LONDON Welsh captain Tom May and London Irish replacement Dan Leo were both sent off after 34 minutes as Welsh went down to their 11th league defeat (24-9) of the season.
May's action was similar to that of Northampton's Dylan Hartley last week as the skipper lashed out with a swinging elbow and though Leo initially appeared to be defending himself, having grappled May to the floor he punched the opposition centre and both earned their red card.
It was a close game until the sendings-off but after the interval, the London Irish pack dominated to secure victory. In a game of poor quality, Alex Lewington, Geoff Cross and Tom Court scored tries for the Irish with Tom Homer converting all three and kicking a penalty. Three penalties from Will Robinson were Welsh's sole response.
Both sides made sweeping changes following heavy defeats last weekend. Irish made five, with lock Nic Rouse returning after injury and Shane Geraghty switching to centre to accommodate Chris Noakes at fly-half. Welsh changed seven, with Nick Scott included on the wing and Dean Schofield in the second row.
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons claimed just their second away win over Cardiff since the inception of regional rugby at a packed Arms Park.
Two tries from line-out drives brought them their fourth victory on the trot in all competitions, although a final quarter rally did earn the hosts a losing bonus point after a 23-17 defeat.
In the end of the contest, it was the accurate place kicking of 13-point Dragons full-back Tom Prydie that proved the difference between the sides in a rip-roaring St Stephen's Day derby.