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Paice: Irish must end the year with a win

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Despite suffering their heaviest defeat of the season on Sunday, London Irish hooker David Paice says Christmas is not cancelled with positivity the key to ending 2014 with a bang.

Irish succumbed to a 48-16 defeat against Wasps in their new Ricoh Arena home, leaving them 11th in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table after six domestic defeats in a row.

But, rather than come down like a tonne of bricks on his players, head coach Brian Smith will allow them to spend Christmas Day with their families ahead of the Boxing Day clash against basement club London Welsh.
And Paice believes Smith is playing it just right.

“We are training on Christmas Eve, but we have Christmas Day off,” he said. “We can’t go too hard, because we know the London Welsh players won’t and we need to be able to match them.

“We’ll be in bright and early on Boxing Day to prepare for the game. It’s important that we as players stay positive, because if we can string a couple of wins together that might really kick-start things for us.

“We played well for the majority of the game against a great Wasps team and got a good result the weekend before in Europe against Cardiff Blues.”

The margin of last weekend’s defeat looked unlikely at half-time, with the score at 18-16 as the 28,254-strong crowd made their way to the concourses for some refreshment.

But a record 33-point haul from Andy Goode, plus tries from Andrea Masi, Elliot Daly and Joe Simpson did for the Exiles.

However, Paice insists he saw enough good things from his teammates to anticipate a swift change of fortune.

“It was tough. Wasps are a great side and deserved their win, but for the first 45-60 minutes we were the better team,” added Paice, capped eight times by England.

“But we can’t expect to be in a position to win a game when we give away twice as many penalties as our opponents. We made stupid mistakes.

“The occasion didn’t get to us. It’s a great stadium to play at. We just let a bit of frustration creep in.

“And once the first try was scored the floodgates started to open, but I honestly believe we were the better team and very strong defensively in the first half.”

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