This weekend’s round of Aviva Premiership fixtures could be significant to London Irish’s quest to secure top-flight rugby for next season according to loose head prop Tom Smallbone.
Smallbone, 22, who was a World Cup winner with England Under-20s in 2013, has labelled the last four games as ‘cup finals,’ starting with Saturday’s visit of Sale Sharks (kick-off 3pm).
“Sale Sharks is a huge game for us, and staying in the Aviva Premiership is all that matters to us,” said the long serving Exile, who was just four when he joined the London Irish amateur set-up.
“Over the last six weeks performances have improved, particularly since the Northampton game and we have been playing some good rugby.
“It was frustrating last week against Worcester Warriors, but we are looking to learn from our mistakes and get the crucial win,” he added.
Despite tasting a 12-6 defeat on the road at Sixways, a Greig Tonks penalty three minutes from time ensured the Exiles a losing bonus point which cut the gap to just four points at the foot of the table.
While Irish picked up five points from two games by virtue of a 23-18 victory at home to Gloucester as well as a losing bonus point at Worcester, Newcastle picked up a solitary point as both teams head into crucial showdowns.
The northeasterners travel to top four chasers Harlequins, while the Exiles lock horns with Steve Diamond’s sale outfit.
Smallbone said: “We have to focus on ourselves and not be distracted by what is going on around us and control what we can control.
“We are a tight bunch here at the Club and we are staying tight and that’s the way we can get through these things.”
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