London Irish Head Coach Les Kiss has affirmed that his team will have to match their best standards and then some when taking on Newcastle Falcons this weekend.

The sides meet in the nineteenth round of Gallagher Premiership action, with both coming off the back of narrow losses to Leicester Tigers and Saracens, respectively.

Kiss commented on his admiration for Falcons’ “grit” when facing off against the north Londoners last weekend despite a 29-23 reverse, something he and his Exiles can no doubt expect more of in the North-East.

The coach evaluated Irish’s undoing at the Gtech Community Stadium against the reigning champions last week, praising his side’s own intensity in the cagey encounter in Brentford.

“The pleasing factor for us though is that year on year, these games aren’t gone by a certain period and we’re fighting to the end,” Kiss voiced.

“That’s what the competition is at the moment, you can be close enough and do most things right, but a score can go against you.

“They [Leicester Tigers] got a few more things right, a few penalties towards the end and we weren’t accurate enough to turn it around at certain times.

“We lost the other game against them by two points and we know we are getting better, we know the competition isn’t dead and buried yet and the next three games are vital.

“Overall, I can’t be disappointed with the effort and intensity of our commitment, but it was a tight game that we came out on the wrong side of.”

A tantalising run-in in the final months of the 2022/23 campaign lies in store for the Exiles, a stretch that includes an opportunity for silverware as well as the annual St. Patrick’s Party celebrations.

With exciting days ahead for London Irish, Kiss underpinned the importance of the remaining fixtures for the Club.

“There is a lot to fight for, and the first thing we make sure of is approaching each day with the professional mindset we do to allow us to be a contender in any form.

“The under-18s picked up a trophy, and we’re still in contention for trophies in the senior squad too.

“It’s a very difficult thing to win silverware, but it’s great for the Club to be in the hunt and it’s a real big plus.

“We have some really big matches coming up, the Saints game for our St. Patrick’s Party will be belter, with so much on the line for the two teams between now and then.

“Whatever goes on during that 80 minutes on that field will be unbelievable, and I’ve had enough time in the Irish realms to know that it will be one hell of a party regardless of the result!

“We’ve talked a lot within Hazelwood about making that a real special day for the Club but my job is looking at the next moment in front of you, so getting things right now will make that day even more special.

“That starts this week against Newcastle.”

Despite recent history favouring Irish, the experienced coach apprised of the challenge ahead this Sunday as the Tyneside outfit look to narrow the nine-point gap between the sides in the Premiership table.

The Exiles won their last three encounters with Falcons in the Premiership, including a first league double over Newcastle in 11 seasons last term, which was followed up with a 39-17 victory at the Gtech in December.

Operating at the best possible levels at Kingston Park will be necessary in order to accrue vital points for the Club, Kiss asserted.

“It’s going to be a very important return on the points table this week, and Newcastle looms large.

“There is some real explosiveness in some of the Newcastle players that just comes out of nowhere, they can do some special things.

“What we did manage last time against them was a lower error rate and good positioning to take our chances when they were one, which is really important against Newcastle.

“We asked the team this week what they saw in their opponents this Sunday, and they said all the right things; they’re gritty, they’re confident on their own patch and they stay in the fight, which they did against Saracens last week.

“We have to be at our best standards, or even better, to be in with a chance.”

Irish’s coach also asserted his admiration for the project under the command of counterpart Dave Walder since the latter’s promotion to the helm in Newcastle over the summer, making for a good test in Round 19.

“I’m very impressed with what they have done after losing a big figure like Dean Richards, they have re-assessed how their identity has evolved and they have moved their game on with a fresh set of eyes – Dave [Walder] and his coaches have done a fantastic job.

“Even when they were down to 14 men against Saracens, they still fought and not just through ‘one-out’ rugby, they still tried to play in a style they are trying to represent themselves with.

“They’re a tenacious side, we are under no illusions of the challenge and that has driven our focus of what we have to be as a team this weekend.

“They’re proud of what they are, and that’s great to be able to test yourself against a team like that.”

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