Wokingham Today

Exiles vow to battle to the bitter end

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Harlequins 5 London Irish 35

DECLAN KIDNEY says his London Irish side will battle right to the end as they picked up just a third league win of the season by thrashing rivals Harlequins at The Stoop.

The Exiles remain bottom of the table, but have trimmed the gap to nine points behind 11th-placed Worcester Warriors with the 35-5 success thanks to two Piet van Zyl tries and further scores from Max NorthcoteG­reen and Tom Fowlie.

Victory for Worcester over Newcastle Falcons keeps Irish’s hopes of survival slim with only three games to play, but they do at least remain in the hunt ahead of a clash with reigning champions and leaders Exeter Chiefs at Madejski Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

But technical consultant Kidney insists he is not concerned by any results other than his own side’s.

“We want to control the controllab­les,” he said.

“What happens elsewhere is outside of our control.

“We’ll just keep fighting right to the end ourselves.”

He added: “Confidence is one of those intangible­s. The boys have been working hard over the last couple of weeks and before myself and Les (Kiss) arrived too.

“It’s just a few passes stuck and it came our way against Quins.

“We have a massive task next against the reigning champions Exeter, but we’ll look forward to it and we’ll prepare the same way as we prepared for this week’s match.”

Exiles were dealt a blow just before kick-off when Johnny Williams was forced to withdraw through injury, meaning a mass reshuffle of the back-line.

But it failed to cause any real problems for the visitors as they took the lead within quarter of an hour as Tom Fowlie broke through before offloading to van Zyl to score.

That lead soon extended to 14-0 when the scrum-half crossed again, latching onto a kind bounce of the ball following Alex Lewington’s chip through.

By half-time the visitors had stormed 22-0 ahead when flanker NorthcoteG­reen squeezed over in the corner while Tommy Bell, who had been due to start on the bench, completed two successful kicks.

Another Bell penalty moved Irish 25-0 up before Quins finally got on the scoreboard through Jack Clifford after some hesistant defending.

Last time out the Exiles squandered a 17-0 advantage against Gloucester, but they managed the game better this time around, going 32-5 up courtesy of Fowlie’s score.

And Bell wrapped up the victory with his sixth accurate kick of the afternoon to complete a league double over Harlequins following the opening day win at Twickenham.

“Since I came here, I can’t believe we’re at the bottom of the table,” said double try- scorer van Zyl, who arrived in January.

“I think we’re a good team and it was a massive team effort.

“What Declan and Les have come in and said is just to take it game by game and staying up is out of our hands.

“We’re going to keep taking it game by game and putting in performanc­es, that’s important.”

LONDON IRISH: Bell, Cokanasiga (Tikoirotum­a 62), Fowlie (Tonks 75), Brophy Clews (Tonks 62), Lewington, Marshall, van Zyl, Franks (Reid 54), Paice (Porecki 54), Hoskins (du Plessis 66), van der Merwe, McNally, Schatz (Basham 62), Northcote-Green, Treviranus (De Chaves 71).

Tries: van Zyl x2 (14,22), Northcote-Green (30), Fowlie (62) Cons: Bell x3 (15,23,63)

Pens: Bell x3 (40+1,46,69)

HARLEQUINS: Brown, Walker, Marchant, Saili (Lang 41), Visser (Alofa 62), Smith, Care, Marler (Lambert 59), Ward (Gray 41), Sinckler (Collier 59), Matthews, South (Merrick 59), Robshaw, Clifford (White 62), Luamanu.

Try: Clifford (52)

Referee: Ian Tempest

Attendance: 12,053

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