RED-HOT favourites London Irish are on the verge of an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.

The Reading-based club look set to renew top-tier rivalries with Worcester Warriors just one season after being relegated.

Irish struck a crucial blow in their bid for promotion after toppling Yorkshire Carnegie 29-18 last night in the first leg of the Championship play-off final.

Fergus Mulchrone, the brother of former Warriors scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone, crashed over for Irish’s second try at Headingley.

Former Warrior Blair Cowan started for Irish, while Worcester-born Luke Narraway, who is joining Coventry in the summer, was on the bench.

Carnegie’s squad included former Warrior Rob O’Donnell on the bench but ex-Sixways lock Dan Sanderson was not in the squad.

Tommy Bell was in top form for Irish, kicking 19 points as they overcame a 15-13 interval deficit to take a firm grip on the promotion tussle.

Irish will take an 11-point advantage into next Wednesday’s home second leg.

Irish are unbeaten in the league at home this season and recorded a comfortable 41-17 success at home to Carnegie in December.