Premiership: Declan Kidney downplays London Irish play-off chances

·3-min read
London Irish boss Declan Kidney walking Credit: Alamy
London Irish boss Declan Kidney walking Credit: Alamy

London Irish boss Declan Kidney downplayed his team’s chances of qualifying for the play-offs after their 37-22 triumph over Northampton Saints in the Premiership on Saturday.

So’otala Fa’aso’o and Tom Pearson went over for the Exiles in the first half, whilst Saints responded with a Juarno Augustus five-pointer and a Fin Smith penalty.

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London Irish continued their charge in the second period as Ben Loader and Chunya Munga scored, cancelling out Tommy Freeman and Lewis Ludlam’s tries.

“No pressure”

Kidney claims nothing is expected from his side regarding play-off contention and credited his players for their efforts.

“There’s no pressure, and there’s nothing expected of us, so we’ve said we’d enjoy the journey,” Kidney said.

“I’m sure if you ran down to some of the betting offices you wouldn’t get many that said we had a good chance of making it to the top four with three games to go, but what about it?

“We’re happy enough, it was a good day and it was a good game of rugby of two good sides going at it.

“We probably had more opportunities and took them than we let them have, and that was a big difference in the game.

“They came out very well at points, but our defence stood strong and we were on point today, and it’s a credit to the coaches and the players.

“We have the challenge of it being four weeks to go until our next match, but now is the time to enjoy the moment.

“We have to find a way to be ready in four weeks time to take on the league leaders (Saracens) on their home patch.”

Play-off blow

Meanwhile, Saints boss Phil Dowson admits the loss is a play-off setback as his side falls out of the top four. However, the coach is looking to regroup for their fixture against Saracens on April 15.

“We knew it was a huge opportunity and we were playing a good side, but not enough of our game was at the requisite level,” Dowson said.

“We didn’t perform well enough for long enough periods which is a bit of a headscratcher because at times at home we’ve been really good, and away from home we haven’t.

“I don’t think we were lacking energy, we’ve worked on our defensive alignment, got into good spaces and then didn’t complete enough tackles or slow them down.

“Their attack is excellent, if they get fast ball they cut you up and we had to scramble at several occasions.

“There is still a mathematical opportunity to get into the play-offs, so we’re still gonna go for it.

“We’ve got a great group of lads, there’s never a lack of energy or effort, it’s a lack of execution.

“We’ve got a week off next week to regather and recover for Saracens and Newcastle and make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity.”

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