London Irish take heart after defeat to reigning Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs

London Irish take heart after defeat to reigning Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs

LONDON IRISH hooker David Paice said his side can take heart from their second half performance at the home of Exeter Chiefs after London Irish succumbed to a 37-7 defeat at the hands of reigning Aviva Premiership champions at Sandy Park.

Paice, who now turns his focus to this Friday’s trip to Sale Sharks, said: “I can’t question the commitment of the guys but unfortunately we weren’t accurate enough.

“The biggest lesson for us is that when you play quality teams like Exeter, we need to stick to our game plan. There are certainly positives we can take into the Sale game on Friday.”

With rain lashing down for long periods of the contest, Paice admits Exeter handled the conditions more effectively.

“Exeter showed us how to play wet weather rugby and it was a real test for us, but we’ll learn from this and be better for the experience,” he said.

A penalty try coupled with further scores from Don Armand, Olly Woodburn and Henry Slade secured a bonus point triumph for the Devon outfit, who got back to winning ways following their opening day defeat at Gloucester.

The Exiles’ solitary try came in the shape of a 72nd minute score from Alex Lewington, the winger demonstrating excellent footwork to cross in the corner.

Nick Kennedy’s men had to endure a barrage of pressure for the duration of the first half, Chiefs purring with every attack.

Irish conjured up their first clear-cut opportunity through James Marshall on 19 minutes, the Kiwi centre fending off a string of defenders only for the attack to be halted by a scrambling Exeter rearguard.

Chiefs doubled their tally of tries for the afternoon on 26 minutes, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarding a penalty try following a dominant driving lineout. The Sandy Park outfit were causing Irish’s backline no end of trouble with Jack Nowell and Woodburn threatening further scores in the minutes that immediately followed.

With half-time looming, Exeter extended their lead to 20-0 by virtue of openside flanker Don Armand. Irish came out for the second period in positive mood and enjoyed a lion share of possession, but handling errors led to missed chances.

The visitors kept plugging away despite the deficit, and with eight minutes remaining Lewington dived over in the corner to give the travelling Exiles supporters something to cheer. Replacement scrum-half Brendan McKibbin peeled off the base of a maul to feed Lewington on the blindside.

Looking to salvage a losing bonus point from the game, Irish were hit with a sucker-punch when McKibbin’s looping pass was intercepted by Woodburn inside his own 22 with the winger sprinting clear to seal the bonus point. Steenson’s conversion made it 30-7.

Exeter back row Armand added further gloss to the scoreline, as he crashed over from close range to bag his brace for the afternoon. Steenson added the extras from directly in front of the posts to end the game 37-7.

London Irish’s next home games are against Northampton Saints on Sunday, September 24 and Leicester Tigers on Saturday, October 7.