Premiership: Declan Kidney hails London Irish players after momentous win over Saracens

David Skippers
London Irish boss Declan Kidney walking

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney was full of praise for his players following a superb 29-20 Premiership triumph against Saracens at the GTech Community Stadium on Friday.

The result was a significant one for the hosts as it ended runaway table-toppers Saracens’ run of nine consecutive wins in the competition.

Feisty affair

It was a feisty encounter as both Exiles lock Adam Coleman and Sarries flanker Ben Earl were both red carded.

Irish’s win takes them above Bath into ninth place in the standings for the time-being and Friday’s win over the Premiership pacesetters was only their third positive result of the season.

It was also their second successive win after they beat fellow struggles Newcastle Falcons at the start of the month.

Kidney said he never doubted his side’s ability to turn the corner and praised their performance against Saracens.

“We didn’t get too despondent as I knew we weren’t far away,” he said. “In adversity it’s very easy to start doubting yourselves but I never did with this group.

“It was some game to watch with lots of ebbs and flows and the match was won on tight margins.

“We are learning how to win, and tonight will help us a lot with that but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

“Our boys had a bit to prove tonight whereas Sarries were coming off two good wins in Europe so that may have helped us a bit.”

London Irish back-row Tom Pearson won the man-of-the-match award and he must have caught the eye of new England head coach Steve Borthwick, who was watching his first live match since his appointment.

“It has been coming for a few weeks now, we’ve had so many close results and we sort of got use to the rhetoric of not just doing enough but to do enough tonight against an unbeaten team is no better feeling,” said Pearson after the match.

“It was a crazy match as two red cards in the game just shows you need to expect the unexpected as it never goes to the game plan and you just have to work with how the 80 minutes develops.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall had no qualms about his side’s loss and admitted the Exiles were deserved winners, although he was not impressed with his side’s display.

“Hats off to Irish as they were by far the better team. We never played with any energy and were well off the pace,” he said. “Our decision-making was poor and we allowed ourselves to be rattled and distracted.

“When they went down to 12, you have to find a way to score but we didn’t as our skill levels weren’t accurate enough.

Exiles better than their league position

“Irish have been unfortunate to lose in a number of great games this season and their league position is false.

“I’d like to have a look again at Ben’s dismissal as it felt like it was very low and their player’s momentum was going to the floor.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Brilliant London Irish end Saracens’ winning run while second place Sale Sharks also left stunned