Ir­ish slump has Smith in bother

Egham News - - INSIDE -

BRIAN SMITH ad­mit­ted “the buck stops with me” after his London Ir­ish side fell to a fifth con­sec­u­tive Aviva Premier­ship de­feat, writes Alan Man­i­com.

Ex­iles have lost all five of their league games at home so far this sea­son and after a 9-21 re­verse against Glouces­ter, their di­rec­tor of rugby is un­der huge pres­sure to turn the club’s for­tunes around.

Smith, whose con­tract is up for re­newal in the sum­mer, said: “The ef­fort was there but we were in­ac­cu­rate. It is hard to say why.

“You have to look at each in­ci­dent. We had big op­por­tu­ni­ties inside their 22 and could not con­vert pres­sure into points. Most were li­ne­out shots close to the line. I might have to look at my own doorstep first be­cause I de­cided to bring six play­ers back from in­ter­na­tional duty.

“We were clearly un­der pres­sure and weren’t ac­cu­rate. I have to ask whether that was be­cause I made so many changes or was it just an in­ac­cu­rate throw or what­ever?

“I am the guy who made the calls so the buck stops with me.”

Glouces­ter cap­tain Greig Laid­law broke the dead­lock with a penalty to give his side a 3-0 half-time ad­van­tage and added another early in the sec­ond half.

Henry Purdy then sprinted down the left touch­line to fin­ish off a well-worked move for the first try of the game.

Shane Ger­aghty got the Ex­iles on the score­sheet with the first of three penal­ties, while Laid­law slot­ted his third of the game.

Ir­ish piled on the pres­sure in the fi­nal 15 min­utes, but their fail­ure to turn their pos­ses­sion into ter­ri­tory proved costly as Glouces­ter full-back Steve McColl pounced on James Hook’s chip to score his side’s sec­ond try with just over five min­utes re­main­ing.

Glouces­ter had Tom Sav­age sin­binned for a late hit on Ger­aghty four min­utes from time, but Ir­ish were un­able to make the ex­tra man count.

Smith said: “Our is­sues were of our own mak­ing. We have no com­plaints. We just have to cop it on the chin. We have had no trac­tion in Novem­ber which is mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing.”

Ir­ish re­main sec­ond from bot­tom in the Premier­ship and it is only the poor form of base­ment club London Welsh that is pro­tect­ing them from the spec­tre of rel­e­ga­tion.

Ex­iles now take a break from the Premier­ship to play pool games against Cardiff Blues in the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup in Wales on Satur­day and then at Made­jski Sta­dium a week later.

Smith said: “Prob­a­bly the best thing about Novem­ber is that it is over and we can move onto Europe where we are go­ing well.

“We have to shake this off pretty quickly.”

Ed­die Gre­ville

Un­der pres­sure: London Ir­ish di­rec­tor of rugby

Brian Smith ad­mits he is feel­ing the heat.

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