Exiles turned the corner

Sun, 06 Jan 2013 13:31
Large brian smith london irish Large alex corbisiero scrum Large brian smith

In turning over Gloucester on their home patch, Brian Smith insists his London Irish side drew a line under two heavy defeats.

In turning over Gloucester on their home patch, Brian Smith insists his London Irish side drew a line under two heavy defeats at the hands of the West Country club - shipping 76 points - results which came less than a month ago.

Director of Rugby Smith knew he was leading his side into a battle at Kingsholm, the difference this week was the play of his forwards - led from the front by lock George Skivington.

With two weeks away from Premiership action to rest bodies - and hopefully nurse injury-plagued Alex Corbisiero back onto the field - Smith believes winning here will give his side the necessary momentum to close out the season.

Since losing to Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup, Smith's side had shown signs of putting together an 80-minute performance like this - they were unlucky to leave the Stoop empty-handed last week - but they are still fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, and it's the points more than any performance that the Australian will be pleased to be taking back to Reading.

"Both forward packs had a good crack at each other and it was won up front," said Smith.

"It's a very different circumstance to when we came down here three weeks ago - we brought down kids, and it got a bit messy.

"They brought a big pack today - particularly the back row - and we picked a big pack so we could go toe to toe with them. They put a lot of heat on the ball and it was tight, but we came out on top.

"The team showed a lot of character - we held out with our starting side as long as we could, and we just toughed it out.

"What pleased me most is the big W that'll be beside the result in the paper tomorrow - I'm sick of seeing L's.

"George (Skivington) was immense today. He's stepped up in what's been a pretty tough season and led from the front.

"Winning at Kingsholm will give us a bit of momentum. We've got a few weeks now to freshen up some of the boys - then we'll load up for the big run home for the league."

After seeing his young Gloucester side lose two weeks running for the first time, Director of Rugby Nigel Davies warned his players to remember the disappointment, and to draw on it as they go forward.

For the second week running, Gloucester had troubles in the scrum - shipping six points directly from scrummaging penalties - although this week they weren't packing down against Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole.

In order for Gloucester to better control games, Davies believes his front-row must improve how they play the referee, while no doubt the imminent return of England wing Jonny May will provide a boost to a backline corps that appears to be lacking it's characteristic spark.

"We didn't turn up today, emotionally we didn't turn up. You couple that with the error count and that's the reason we failed today," said Davies.

"I said to players, remember how this feels - because I don't want to feel like this again.

"Today we showed we're not good enough not to slip off the accuracy and intensity. We got it wrong today, and it's not acceptable.

"You lose games in rugby, it's how you come back from that. We are still very much a work in progress.

"It's very difficult at scrum time. It's difficult for the referee, its difficult for the players.

"It's a real mess at the moment. It can go either way, it really is a toss of a coin and it's truly frustrating.

"It's the same for everybody, but generally in the game there's a huge frustration in the scrum.

"We just need to get some momentum, and we've got some players coming back behind the scrum which will freshen it up a bit."

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