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Match Reaction: London Irish 24 London Welsh 9

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith lauded the work of his combative forwards as his side sealed their first home Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season over London Welsh.

Props Geoff Cross and Tom Court both crossed the whitewash after lumbering work from the pack in inclement Boxing Day conditions as Irish ended a run of six successive defeats with their 175th Premiership win.

Alex Lewington also touched down and Homer added nine from the tee but Smith felt the Exiles could have done more to snatch a bonus point.

“It is mixed emotions really as I thought with ten minutes to go we were within a real shout of squeezing a bonus point from that game,” he said.

“They kept us out early when we had them by the throat and that’s probably the difference between getting three and four tries.

“The victory today was purely off the back of the forwards. The rain was heavy, the pitch was very slippy and we clearly went in with a drive focus.

“I think we must have driven for 200 metres today so that is a monumental effort and it was one that was required.

“The forwards will sleep well tonight and the backs will be buying them coffee on Monday morning.”

Both sides were reduced to 14 before half-time as Tom May and Daniel Leo saw red for elbows to the head.

Welsh, whose nine points came from Will Robinson’s boot, go into the New Year with one solitary point, equalling Rotherham's 2003 end-of-calendar-year tally – the worst ever total at this stage under the current points system.

And director of rugby Justin Burnell was left distraught with their 11th loss of the season, despite the improvement from last week’s record 78-7 defeat at Saracens.

“It was a game we wanted to win so we are bitterly disappointed,” said Burnell.

“I felt that some stages in the game we could have won it, especially after last week’s debacle. Today we saw a little bit more of a level playing field.

“I felt this week were able to keep the ball, we started off as we wanted to, and we were going into half-time in the game.

“Even when it was 17-9 I felt we were in it. It is chalk and cheese from last week.

“They are a very resilient bunch across the board, the players, the staff, everyone involved.

“The disappointment now becomes more frustration as last week we were just hammered.”

London Irish: Homer; Ojo, Mulchrone, Geraghty, Lewington; Noakes (Gilsenan 41), Steele (O’Leary 65); Court (Halavatau 79), Paice, Cross (Aulika 58), Skivington, Rouse, Low (Leo 26), Cowan, Sinclair (Sheridan 79)
Replacements: Allen, Fenby
London Welsh: Robinson; Kear, May, Jewell, Scott; Weepu (Stegmann 62), Lewis; Trevett (Reeves 52), Vella (Morris 68), Vea, Down, Schofield (Pienaar 66), McCaffrey (Browne 52), Kirwan, Fenua
Replacements: Cooper, Rowley, Tincknell

London Irish
Tries: Lewington, Cross, Court
Conversions: Homer 3
Penalties: Homer
London Welsh
Penalties: Robinson 3
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 7,097

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