Interim head coach Glenn Delaney insists London Irish must start to turn tight games in their favour after they were edged out by Leicester Tigers in a tense Aviva Premiership Rugby clash at the Madejski Stadium.
The Exiles enjoyed much of the possession and territory in a cagey affair, spending 61% of the game in the visitors’ half, but two Shane Geraghty penalties were all they had to show for their efforts.
The Tigers owed the win to their destructive pack, with Freddie Burns and David Mele slotting over three kicks between them from penalties at the scrum and breakdown, with Burns also adding a first-half drop-goal.
Following another close-run result last weekend, when they were beaten 15-9 by Premiership champions Northampton Saints, Delaney feels that Irish must find a way to win the tightest games.
“Days like today and last week, where you are up against the big clubs, if you get your chance to win them you have to take them,” Delaney said.
“Taking those chances is something we have to be more clinical on.
“We have not just set out to play for pride, we are here to win games and be competitive. We are in games at the minute, but we are just not getting over the final hurdle.
“The set piece was really the difference between the two sides today, we got quite close to their line a couple of times but when you are under that much pressure things are going to be difficult.
“On the whole it was not a good enough day for us up front, there were a lot of positives for us in other areas, but we still had chances to win the game.”
Richard Cockerill admitted that Leicester’s lack of cutting edge is an issue as they continue to push for a top-four spot, with his side never coming close to crossing the Irish whitewash on a sodden afternoon.
But despite having gone the longest period without a Premiership try in the club’s history, Cockerill insists there were positives to take from the victory, especially given the second-half absence of Burns after sustaining a knock to the head.
“You want to score tries and we are not scoring enough tries, but we have a lot of important people missing and that does affect you,” the Tigers boss said.
“Today was a game of carrying and set-pieces and controlling the field position, and if Freddie had stayed on the field we may have controlled the field position and our set piece would have taken over.
“It was a scrappy and ugly game, but we have come away from home and won, and that is the key bit.
“Finding a way to dig in was really pleasing, and although we lost a bit of direction with Freddie gone and didn’t command the game, we soaked up the pressure.
“It’s a win, we’ll definitely take it and we are still in the mix.”
London Irish: Fenby; Ojo (Griffin 23), Fowlie, Sheridan, Lewington; Geraghty, Steele (Allinson 60); Court, Paice (Stevens 80), Cross (Halavatau 36); Skivington, Sinclair (Rouse 52); Treviranus, Gilsenan, Guest (Narraway 58)
Replacements not used: Parr, Noakes
Leicester Tigers: Tait; Goneva (Morris 75), Catchpole, Roberts (Bai 49), Benjamin; Burns (Mele 40), Harrison; Ayerza (Rizzo 73), Youngs (Briggs 69), Mulipola (Balmain 67); de Chaves, Kitchener (Whetton 58); Croft, Gibson (Pearce 61), Crane
Penalties: Geraghty 2
Penalties: Burns 2, Mele
Drop Goals: Burns
Referee: Wayne Barnes
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