London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney believes his team have a lot more to offer the Premiership after they won 22-19 at leaders Exeter Chiefs.
This Sandy Park success was Irish’s fifth victory of the Premiership campaign as they head towards their finale against Bristol on Sunday and then a short break before the new season begins at the end of November.
But for Exeter, the matches just keep coming. They face a final regular season Premiership match on Sunday, then a Premiership semi-final and possible final plus their chance to lift the European Champions Cup when they play French side Racing 92 on October 17.
Kidney watched hooker Matt Cornish, his replacement Augustin Creevy and centre Curtis Rona score tries, while a penalty from fly-half Paddy Jackson plus two conversions sealed their win.
Exeter’s points came from tries by lock Will Witty and centres Ollie Devoto and Tom Hendrickson, while fly-half Harvey Skinner kicked two conversions.
Kidney said: “I am really happy to have got a result. We didn’t spend as long in our own half as we have done in other matches, which means the opposition didn’t score as much and that gave us a chance towards the end.
“That is why I am glad in that they want to win and that is something you cannot coach, that attitude. That is why I am glad they have got a return for it.
“There is so much to do. If we played well, imagine how much more we can do. I believe there is more there – a lot more.”
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Kidney believed Irish were ‘a bit soft’ in the first half but they ‘stuck at it’.
He explained: “I am delighted for the coaches, players and the backroom staff. To eke out a result like this is great.”
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter has a few things to think about over the coming weeks, particularly his squad selection – which was not helped with a couple of nasty-looking injuries during the defeat.
The team are guaranteed top spot in the Premiership table and a home semi-final but Baxter added: “I think it is disappointing when you have a game which you have a chance of winning.
“When you sit and watch us doing things we don’t normally do, then it is disappointing.”
The team facing Irish included many who had not played much and Baxter added: “Of course, I understand all those scenarios around game time being limited for those players.
“It will make it feel better that we have only lost by a couple of points but the game was there to be won. We did not make the most of the opportunities we had.”
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