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Jebb Sinclair and London Irish heading ‘into the belly of the beast’

London Irish have won two of their last three to climb off the bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table but Jebb Sinclair insists the Exiles are raising the intensity further ahead of the trip to Northampton Saints.  

Victories over nearest rivals Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors boosted the relegation threatened Exiles, but the bottom three are now separated by only one point.

The Exiles stunned the Saints – the table toppers in the regular season last year – 25-23 when they met at the Madejski Stadium in round seven, but have never completed a league double over Jim Mallinder’s men.

Canadian Sinclair, who signed a new two-year deal with London Irish in January, has featured for the Exiles in both the back-row and at lock this season and insists complacency is not an option ahead of Saturday’s encounter.   

“It will have to be more of the same really, one win doesn’t change anything and we aren’t resting on our laurels. We have ramped it up this week if anything,” the 42-cap Canada international said.

“We are going into the belly of the beast in Northampton. They didn’t start that great considering their ambitions, but they have picked up and so we have had to ramp it up another level.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we beat them at the Madejski, so there will be a lot of confidence we can take to Franklin’s gardens, but it is one of the hardest places to go.”

Saints have not lost two consecutive games at Franklin’s Gardens since 2012 and Irish are without an away win since beating London Welsh in February 2015, but Sinclair believes the nature of their performances in Northampton are cause for hope.

“Historically, over the last three or four years we have played very well at Franklin’s Gardens and we know that we can compete with them over 80 minutes,” he said.

“Every game, home or away, we are looking for four points and the win.”

Sinclair says their recent upturn in form has come not from a golden bullet, but from weeks of hard work, with players finally fulfilling their promise and with Irish yet to claim a bonus point this season, he acknowledges they could be critical.  

“It is very difficult to put your finger on what has changed and if you could, you would be a rich man,” he explained.

“We have simplified things a bit over the last few weeks. There were quite a few of us that haven’t played to our potential, but we are getting some consistency now.

“It is a case of staying in games and not letting teams get bonus points even when we do get beaten.”

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