Director of Rugby Declan Kidney affirmed that London Irish’s time will come after the Exiles missed out on a first play-off berth in 14 years this weekend.
A 45-21 defeat at the hands of rivals Saracens at the StoneX Stadium condemned Kidney’s men to a campaign without a postseason, but the Irishman remained defiant and believes there was much to take from the experience.
With the boss stating that the loss will be “part of the team’s growth”, more high-stakes encounters will only serve the team well in the coming years.
Irish held the cards in the opening quarter and raced into a 10-0 lead courtesy of a converted Matt Rogerson try and Paddy Jackson penalty, with Kidney crediting the effort of Sunday’s opponents to alter the momentum of the tie.
“We played well there in the opening 20 minutes and a couple of swings went Saracens’ way, and they do what Saracens do thereafter,” he voiced.
“Once they get an opening, they put the pressure on and put points on the board.
“There was a play later on in the half that could have gone either way with a seven-point swing, and that’s how it goes.”
Irish relinquished their first-half advantage with the last action of the opening period where Alex Goode raced away to dot down for a converted score, which was swiftly followed by a Sean Maitland effort after the break.
Paddy Jackson kept the west Londoners within touching distance with two place kicks in the third quarter, but the remaining 20 minutes belonged to the hosts with three more tries to secure their ninth home try bonus point victory.
The Director of Rugby told of where he felt the result got away from his Exiles in Round 23 of the Gallagher Premiership.
“There were a couple of momentum swings, points of the game where it was 10-6, and 20-16, but that’s what sides like Saracens do.
“Momentum is a big thing in games like this, when they got tries either side of half-time that proved costly and that’s what we’ll be looking at most.
“Saracens are used to playing in games like that, you could see that they were coming off European rugby and all credit to them for the way they played.
“They earned the right to pick the teams they wanted for the matches they wanted because of where they are in the league.
“We’ll never use that as an excuse, we want to play the best teams to get the best results and we didn’t, so that’s where credit goes to them.”
With Irish pushing into postseason contention as late as the penultimate round of league action, naturally many positives will be taken on for the team to process.
Dealing with those momentum swings will be one of the main lessons to take as preparations begin to take shape for the final game of the season against Exeter Chiefs in Brentford.
“We can deal better with the ones in our control and there are bits that we can work on, but I said to the boys that you can only feel this level of disappointment if you get into this position.
“We haven’t been in this position for quite some time, it will be a part of our growth and will serve its purpose for those lads coming in and experiencing it.
“We’ll gain a lot from Sunday, and what we’ll have to do is settle down for another game in two weeks’ time against European semi-finalists in Exeter.
“Playing against these top sides makes you better, we can pick up bits and pieces along the way and add to our armoury.”
Kidney has every confidence that his men will return better and stronger with more lessons to take from the tests of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership.
“I know we’re improving, and the more often we put ourselves in this position, the more we can learn – our time will come.
“We’ve said throughout the season that the table will take care of itself and we need to take care of every minute in every match.
“Winning enough of those moments in matches will get us results, but against a very tough Saracens outfit, we didn’t.”