3 May 2022
Head Coach Les Kiss has stated the 25-point comeback draw against Wasps at the Brentford Community Stadium is testimony to the disposition of London Irish this season.
The Exiles trailed by a scoreline of 14-39 with 13 minutes remaining, but tries from Academy stars Tom Pearson, Henry Arundell, Ollie Hassell-Collins and a last-minute penalty try salvaged three valuable points for Irish.
Kiss nevertheless emphasised the holes throughout the 80 minutes of the home side in what he described as a ‘fascinating’ encounter with Lee Blackett’s team.
“If you’re a spectator, you’re probably happy but both coaching groups are checking their blood pressure after that!” Kiss exclaimed.
“It was a fascinating game, we started well and finished well but we have a big chunk in the middle we have to look at.
“We just seemed to lose energy, we weren’t as cohesive and in sync as much as we usually are so we’ll have to look at that.
“But to be able to do that at the back end of the game, is still testimony to who we are.”
A sense of foreboding may not have been shared by all at the BCS with so many points to make up and so little time remaining, but the coaching group and players always believed they could make up for a trying third quarter.
“The guys do believe under any circumstances we can just switch on and light the world up, there’s no doubt about that, but we can’t rely on that forever.
“There are parts in the middle of that game that we just have to manage better and find the right solutions to the pressure we were under.
“They did very well against us in that period, but ultimately the type of game we did play might have tired them out late, we just kept coming and we got the reward at the end of the game.
“Maybe if we handle that middle part of the game better, maybe we do get the win.”
The Club’s new London home has seen comebacks of epic proportions in this season alone, with the highest scoring draw in Premiership history Irish’s fifth this season, another league record in and of itself.
The Head Coach declared that the effect of the stadium and the Exile Nation cannot be understated in spurring the team on to spark their entertaining brand of the game.
“This stadium is massive to us, even with a smaller crowd last week there was a lot of noise.
“There is a lot to say about what this ground is doing for us, we’re back in London and it is one of the best tickets in town for sure.
“We do know that we have so much growth in this as well, there are periods in the game that let us down that have popped up regularly in our game throughout the year.
“It’s all very good knowing how well we can play, but we just have to build that other hard edge to make sure we can finish off these games well before the end like we had to against Wasps.”
The Exiles’ next test sees them face the might of RC Toulon in the EPCR Challenge Cup this Sunday, hoping to reach their first European semi-final in 14 years.
“They are a powerhouse, on their home pitch they are imperious and it is a tough, tough challenge.
“We are going to have to play like we play here but smarter, because they do like their set-piece play and a slower game than usual compared to the French teams.
“We want to be able to play to our strengths but make sure we manage our possession, territory and pressure game a bit better, which we didn’t do as well in the middle 20-30 minutes.
“If we can do that and still play our style, maybe we do have a chance.”