15 November 2022
London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney has said that he “welcomes” the challenge of opposing sides matching the Exile style following on from a loss against Exeter Chiefs.
Chiefs took a 22-17 win at Sandy Park in Round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership, yet a spirited showing in the second period saw the west Londoners come within a score of a comeback.
Nevertheless, Irish remains at the foot of the league table; but the experienced coach believes a poor patch of form will make his side a stronger one as the season progresses.
Giving his reaction to the defeat in Devon, Kidney explains the mood in the dressing room after the game and what went wrong for his men on the evening.
“It was one of disappointment; nobody spends their lifetime working on something to not get the right result,” the Irishman elucidated.
“We lost by five points, before that it was two and in the game before that it was one – we keep knocking on the door, but you can’t keep doing the same thing, there are things that we are working on to improve.
“We probably made one too many errors and we will always take responsibility for that, a few too many turnovers in the first half left their print on the game.
“Every loss is disappointing, we dug ourselves a hole in the first half and conceded 19 points before half time.
“I am conscious that I come out here and say the same thing, that doesn’t mean that we will keep doing the same thing.
“We will go and work on the little nuances and add refinements to our game to improve that which is costing us.”
Saturday’s game saw London Irish’s attacking intent drive them close on many occasions to what would have been important points, but they were frequently repelled by strong Exeter defence.
Kidney points to Irish’s famed offensive gameplan now being acknowledged league-wide for a reason as to why his side toiled over unlocking the opposing defence, a scenario he “welcomes” this year.
He explains: “I think there is also a bit of ‘second season syndrome’ in that we are now getting more recognition from opposition Clubs who know how to come against us.
“Last year, we played extremely well and scored a lot of tries and there were times where we caught the opposition with our style of play.
“There was a bit of us being taken for granted last year and there’s less of that being a case now.
“I welcome that, because it will make us a stronger side but we’re just learning to play against that at the moment.
“Once we do that, we will get on a roll and the hurt that’s going through the squad now will come to fruition as the season goes on.”
The Boys in Green still did nevertheless make their ethic evident on the scoreboard, tries from loose forwards So’otala Fa’aso’o and replacement Tom Pearson aiding in the fighting Irish effort.
The importance of a consistent approach throughout each game will be paramount, according to Kidney, as the search for a second league win goes on.
“We were in their 22 quite often, coming away with two tries but there were plenty of other opportunities too, which is the good thing, if we weren’t creating these opportunities I’d be more worried.
“On another day when the ball goes to hand, you’re scoring four or five tries but that is what can happen when you are where we are.
“They aren’t always going to stick easily, but we have to stick through this and not get down ourselves too much after the game.
"What we have to do is look at the whole 80 minutes, and the first half we made it difficult for ourselves.
“Our lads will always fight to the end, what we need to do is put ourselves in situations that allow us to close out games, not to be having to be making fightbacks.”