London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney believes a final pre-season win has given his team more opportunities to grow ahead of next week’s Gallagher Premiership curtain-raiser against Worcester Warriors.

The Exiles won the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy on Friday evening following a 19-14 victory over Graham Rowntree’s Munster Rugby at Musgrave Park.

Irish never surrendered a lead on the night in Cork- backs James Stokes, Matt Williams and Henry Arundell all touching down to sustain the momentum from another away pre-season victory last week, against Jersey Reds.

Upon his return to his home province where he won two Heineken Cups with the Red Army, Kidney maintained there is “plenty to work on” for his current team ahead of the challenge of Warriors at the Gtech Community Stadium.

“It’s always very pleasing to come to a place like Munster and leave with a win,” the Director of Rugby said.  

“But in pre-season, there’s more important things we can take away from the game.

“It showed us some of the things we need to focus and work on, we had a number of opportunities that if we exploit next week we’ll be a better side.

“Defensively, we stood up well but discipline-wise we gave away a few penalties to give them opportunities to score.

“Overall, we’re happy with the night’s work but there’s plenty to work on.”

The welcoming of new faces to the Club saw both Danilo Fischetti and Api Ratuniyarawa make their first appearances in London Irish green, having put pen-to-paper at Hazelwood this past offseason.

Of their performances, Kidney praised both highly, in accompaniment with admiration for the more junior players’ contributions in the closing quarter, which numbered two current Senior Academy players and six Academy graduates.

He continued: “Api [Ratuniyarawa] and Danilo [Fischetti] are guys that we looked to bring in this time last year and they played very well this evening, as did all the younger players.

“Bringing them on in the last 20 minutes up against the other younger players from Munster will be a good experience for them.

“They showed a lot of composure to finish the game off.”

Looking ahead to next week’s proposition against Worcester Warriors, Kidney is wary of the elevation in vigour on the pitch as the Gallagher Premiership season approaches.

“That’s a whole different ball game, the intensity is going to go up two, three-fold.

“We have done our pre-season now, we have the rest of this weekend off so we can come in fully rested in order to have a good week’s work leading into next Saturday.”

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