London Irish boss says 'close knit' squad will aim to win every game to avoid relegation

London Irish boss says 'close knit' squad will aim to win every game to avoid relegation

LONDON IRISH boss Tom Coventry admits his side have no time to dwell on defeat to Saracens as they have six games to save their season.

Despite leading the Aviva Premiership favourites 13-7 at half-time, Saracens emerged to take control of proceedings in the second period, running out eventual 26-16 winners in the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, USA.

In what was the first Premiership match to be staged outside of England, the Exiles looked like they would have to make do with a losing bonus point, but Nick Tompkins’ try in the last minute robbed Coventry’s men of a solitary point.

It leaves Irish languishing bottom of the table on 13 points, eight points adrift of their nearest relegation rivals Newcastle Falcons with just half-a-dozen games to go, starting with Gloucester in the St Patrick's game at the Madejski Stadium this Sunday.

"We need to be positive and improve on our standing, not just in the table but with the style of rugby that we're trying to play here,” said Coventry.

"It was very disappointing not to get the result. We found it difficult in the second-half, we couldn't really get into Saracens' territory. We obviously tried to play too much rugby to try and salvage something at the end of the game, which meant we didn't get anything out of it.

"In the second spell when we came out we gave away three pretty cheap penalties, and that allowed Saracens to get themselves in front and the pressure told, which has been the story of our season really.

"For most of the year we've been trying to keep a positive mind-set for how we deal with a loss. You have to be perfect to beat Saracens, and we weren't perfect enough.

"But we're a pretty close knit team, even with all the results not going our way. They're good mates, these guys have been together for a while, and they hurt together.”

Regardless of the result, Coventry enjoyed the experience of bringing rugby to a wider audience in America, where the match was broadcast live by television network NBC Sports.

Around 15,000 tickets were sold for the event, which was billed as a home game for London Irish, and Coventry admits the Irish community in New York and New Jersey helped create a memorable week for the club.

"It's been a fantastic week for us, bar the result, the weather has been fantastic and we got to spend a week with [NFL side] the New York Jets, training at their marvellous facilities.

Pictures: Getty

"We're the flagship of the Premiership, the first to play off English soil in the US, where rugby union is the fastest growing sport.

"So there's lots of reasons to be positive bar the result. We also have a new fan base which we were able to reach, but unfortunately we were unable to put the cherry on the cake by getting them the result.”

The Exiles are due to return to the States to stage another home game next season, but that agreement may have to change if the club are relegated from the top tier.

"Hopefully we can come back here again to bring rugby to this great country,” added Coventry. "It was just like a home game. I looked out and seen a sea of green, who were pretty loud, pretty vocal, and we had the usual music. The craic was here; we were just unable to do what we needed to do for them.”

After Gloucester, it's Worcester (A), Sale (H), Newcastle (A), Harlequins (H) and Wasps (A) in the league for Irish, and Coventry admits they must set out to win every game or relegation will become a reality.

“We just need to focus on winning every game,” he said. “I imagine we'll have to be winning three or four of them to have a chance.

“If you dwell on it for too long you're going to have a team of guys who are pretty sick, coming into work every day wondering what people are saying.

“We just need to be a little be harder and more ruthless on teams. We're going to have to be a much better rugby team over the next six weeks to do what we have to do.”

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