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Match Reaction: London Irish 25 Harlequins 32

Tom Coventry wants to remain at the London Irish helm despite Sunday’s 32-25 defeat to Harlequins ensuring they will finish bottom of Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Conor O’Shea’s side looked to be running away with it after Charlie Walker’s double and another a try from  Ross Chisholm sent them into a 19-3 lead within 25 minutes. But the Exiles fought back to lead 25-22 with tries from David Paice, Aseli Tikoirotuma and Luke Narraway.

They were ultimately denied by Kyle Sinckler’s late solo score and will now certainly finish in 12th place as they are six points adrift of Newcastle Falcons with one game remaining.

And despite their disappointing season, Coventry said he wants to stay at the club to help oversee an Irish resurgence.

"We've made some progress and I'd like to remain at the club and keep the present squad together," the New-Zealander said

"There will be a big process of review, I'm responsible for the results and the buck stops with me.

“It's a sad day for the club, the dressing room is like a morgue and it's hard to describe the feeling and it's a tough place to be.

"The boys gave everything but we weren't able to keep Quins at bay as they were able to break our defence too easily at times.”

With Sale Sharks losing to Gloucester Rugby on Friday night, Harlequins’ win moved them into sixth – and the Champions Cup spots – but they must now face an Exeter side who put on a defensive clinic against Wasps at Sandy Park to win 24-3.  

It will be Conor O’Shea’s final Aviva Premiership Rugby game in charge and he is keen to ensure he leaves the club with a spot at European rugby’s top table.

O’Shea plied his trade with London Irish for five years in the late 90s and was sympathetic to his former club.
"We wanted to nail our European spot for next season. We knew it would be tough,” the soon-to-be Italy head coach said.

“It's now in our control and destiny and it's going to be tough but the players are always fresher when they have something to play for.

"I came to London 21 years ago and Irish were promoted to the Premiership that season and they have been there ever since. It just shows how brutal the Premiership competition is."

Harlequins:  Chisholm; Yarde, Lowe, Stanley, Walker; Botica (Evans, 49), Care; Lambert, Gray, Collier (Sinckler, 65), Horwill (Matthews, 35), Twomey, Clifford, Wallace (Luamanu, 62), Easter
Unused replacements: Dickson, Evans, Marchant

London Irish: Maitland; Lewington, Mulchrone, Williams, Tikoirotuma, Brophy Clews, Steele, Smallbone (Harris, 46), Paice (Cruse, 74), Aulika (Franks, 22), Stooke (Sinclair, 74), Symons, Narraway, Cowan, Guest (Treviranus, 49)
Unused Replacements: McKibbin, Noakes, Hearn

Harlequins
Tries: Walker 2, Chisholm, Sinckler
Penalties: Botica, Evans
Conversions: Botica 2, Evans

London Irish
Tries: Narraway, Tikoirotuma, Paice
Penalties: Brophy Clews 2
Conversions: Brophy Clews 2

Referee: JP Doyle

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

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