The Wokingham Paper

REACTION: Nick Kennedy on relegation fears, not kicking to the corner and injury to Brophy Clews

Nick Kennedy
Nick Kennedy has left London Irish

Nick Kennedy defended London Irish’s decision to kick for goal late on during Saturday’s defeat to Sale.

The Exiles trailed 13-6 with eight minutes to play when Sharks’ Marc Jones was sent to the sin-bin, but the hosts opted to go for the penalty kick rather than going for the try.

Tommy Bell scored all of London Irish’s points

Tommy Bell slotted over the three points to reduce the arrears to 13-9 and while Irish came close to forcing their way over the line in the closing stages, they were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.

The defeat leaves them 12 points adrift at the foot of the Premiership after second-bottom Worcester Warriors beat leaders Exeter Chiefs.

Here is what Kennedy had to say after the game:

On defeat to Sale…

Disappointing. There were some brilliant bits of play from us. I thought our defence was outstanding. We were under the pump for the vast majority of the first half and they were throwing everything at us. They did get the one score off the scrum but other than that I thought we kept them out really well and had systems in place and I thought the boys defended with real intensity, real passion, winning collisions and Sale are a very good attacking team.

We kept them out nicely I thought. Those sort of games are fine margins. Towards the end there we had a lot of momentum, we were on the up and it was two breakdowns, we just weren’t in quick enough to move them, we weren’t in with enough tenacity to get them off it and they turned us over twice there. They’re the sort of fine margins in these games that we have to look after the ball, we must put it through more phases and we end up scoring and we win the game and it’s a very different outlook now.

On why it took so long to get their attacking game going…

Very, very windy, very wet. It wasn’t the day for attacking rugby. I think both teams experienced that. You get those days at this time of year and I don’t think it quite clicked for us. At the same time there were a few periods when we did look after the ball we got in

Brophy Clews went off with concussion

behind and stayed in behind and it looked good for us.

On not kicking to the corner late on…

The decision was from up top. The thinking was we need to win the game. We must win the game. So let’s get within one try and then get back out there with all the momentum, get down there, force an error which we did.

We turned that scrum over nicely and in the last few minutes we had the ball, we were playing very well, there was space out there to be exploited and it was those two breakdowns. If we’d looked after the ball a little better I firmly believe we would’ve scored. We did have the momentum, we did have the energy, our bench came on and did well. Hindsight is a wonderful thing with these decisions. Ultimately I believe we could’ve scored there and won the game.

On players struggling with the conditions…

Our line-out was a little bit scrappy at times. A couple of errors, we missed a kick to the bottom corner only just and in the Premiership it is fine margins and we’ve just been on the wrong end of those.

INTERVIEW: Theo Brophy Clews wins Exiles’ player of the month

On Worcester winning at Exeter…

Heard about it after our game and it was a surprise. Exeter are a very good team at home, Worcester have gone down there and beaten them so fair play to Worcester, it’s a great result for them.

On being 12 points adrift…

The message is win next week. It’s getting to the point now where losing bonus points aren’t good enough for us. We must win games. The boys will recover tomorrow and then we’ll do everything we can to beat Saints, which is our next game.

Kennedy admits losing bonus points are no longer enough

On hoping conditions are better at Northampton next week…

Conditions will be the same for both teams. We’ll play whatever is in front of us and we’ll throw absolutely everything we’ve got at beating Saints.

On the start to the second half…

We compounded error upon error. Difficult losing our fly-half the way that we did. Theo (Brophy Clews) has been in top form for us, he was excellent last week, ran training this week and then a blocker line miles off the ball takes him out and he’s concussed and we lose our fly-half so we have to rejig, move a 10 around, bring a 15 on and that takes its toll on a little bit of organisation, a little bit of field position potentially and we end up making a couple of those errors.

On low crowd numbers…

We love it when the supporters come down, we love it when it’s nice and loud but the players are professional athletes and they did get themselves up for the game. No I don’t think that was an effect.

On not getting hold of the ball more…

When we were taking the gain line, staying in behind, it looked really good. Direct running I thought looked good again. Ofisa carried the ball a lot and we looked dangerous there once we got going. Maybe a few too many errors from us, a little bit of scrappy times at set piece means we didn’t have enough of those opportunities.

On the next two weeks being ‘must-win’…

We need to keep focussing on the process of getting the preparation spot on, bringing that into the game, not thinking too big a picture and the guys have been excellent all season with that and sticking to what we’re trying to do. Now the stakes are ultimately higher, we need to continue sticking with our processes.

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