Friday 25 May 2018

Bradley relishes flying start

Head coach Toby Booth made no excuses after London Irish slumped to defeat at the hands of Edinburgh. Irish were without six notable performers including Delon Armitage, Topsy Ojo and Jonathan Joseph in a defeat that leaves them requiring some big results during their away ties in Pool Two.

Booth also dismissed the influence of losing England centre Shontayne Hape to a yellow card 11 minutes from time, and declined to comment on the elbow Sean Cox appeared to drive into Hape's face after tackling the player to the ground.

"The citing officers will deal with those things, but they are not what cost us," Booth said. "I knew this would prove to be a topsy-turvy pool and this result certainly makes our lives in it more difficult. But if you are going to get things wrong in a pool game, better in the first game than the last.

"We were pretty poor by our standards and we could not control the game the way we usually can. Take nothing away from Edinburgh who were better than us in that area. Losing Hape didn't help, it was a call by a touch judge which the referee acted upon. That is beyond our control as coaches.

"I feel we left too much out there, even though we did have to end the game with 14 men. We do have a number of our more potent players missing at the moment, but I am not making an excuse, we didn't play well and will need to play a lot better in Cardiff on Friday night."

Hape's running battle with Cox led to his card after the Irish back shoulder-charged his opponent off the ball. To make matters more annoying for Booth, the resultant penalty proved to be Edinburgh's winner.

"Emotional control is very important out there, but margins are very tight," he said. "If you dive under a player to prevent him scoring a try, to hold him up, and you get it right, you are a hero. But get it a split-second out and it can be a yellow card; tight margins.

"The cards that are coach-killers are the cheap, dull ones that are not part of a competitive contest. And you cannot rely on Tommy Homer to always win games for us. He's a 90 per cent goal-kicker, but we must be able to win games if he misses one."

Edinburgh's win was only their second in 24 Heineken Cup away ties, and rugby director Michael Bradley was delighted.

"That was a very tight battle and could have gone either way. But we are delighted with the result," the former Connacht coach said said. "We played some very nice rugby when allowed to, and I was impressed by our discipline when Irish put on the pressure at the end. No penalty conceded while defending phase after phase when one goal was all they needed.

"[David] Denton was a bit dazed after being tackled by Hape so we took him off. We'll have a look at that during the week. Cox and Hape were very competitive out there, rugby is a very physical game."

Tom Homer kicked four penalties and converted the only try Irish scored, a first strike in his new colours for former Edinburgh scrum-half Ross Samson.

But Edinburgh scored two tries, by Lee Jones and Stuart McInally, while Harry Leonard and Greig Laidlaw both kicked a penalty and a conversion.

Scorers -- London Irish: Samson try; Homers 4 pens, con. Edinburgh: Jones, McInally tries; Laidlaw pen, con; Leonard pen, con.

London Irish: T Homer; J Ansbro, S Shingler, S Hape, A Thompstone; D Bowden, A Samson (P Hodgson 67); A Corbisiero (M Lahiff 54), J Buckland (B Blaney 70), P Ion (F Rautenbach 54), N Kennedy, M Garvey ( Sandford 61), B Evans, J Gibson (R Thorpe 61), J Sinclair.

Edinburgh: J Thompson; L Jones, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser; H Leonard, M Blair (G Laidlaw 47); A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross; E Lozada, G Gilchrist; D Denton (S Cox 28), R Rennie (R Grant 47), N McInally.

Referee: R Poite

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