Smith eyes play-off spot
February 17, 2007
London Irish boss Brian Smith believes his side's 15-7 win against Bath could kick-start a run of victories to force the Exiles back into the Guinness Premiership play-off race.
Tries from Sailosi Tagicakibau and Topsy Ojo ended a run of four defeats with Shane Geraghty adding a conversion and a penalty, while Bath replied with a late Danny Grewcock score converted by Olly Barkley.
Last season a 33-28 win against the same opponents at The Rec began a sequence of eight wins in nine games which put Irish into the play-offs.
Smith wants more of the same this season, and Irish will be a threat to anyone if they can sharpen up the finishing which saw three gilt-edged chances go begging at the Madejski Stadium.
``This time last year against Bath we were brilliant in the first half, scored a lot of good tries and went on a run from there, so let's hope this is the catalyst for something similar,'' said Smith.
``Bath gave us a colossal fight up front so we're delighted with the win, even though we missed a couple of two-on-ones.
``We've got to put our heads down now. We knew all week we'd be involved in a massive forward battle and now we've got to regroup and go to Sale and try to do the same thing. That game's a great opportunity for us to go up there and make it count.''
Bath coach Steve Meehan admitted his side paid the price for their lacklustre first-half display - which meant he was forced to keep England lock Grewcock on the pitch for the full 80 minutes.
Meehan had resisted pleas from former Bath coach Brian Ashton to rest Grewcock and hooker Lee Mears ahead of next weekend's Six Nations clash against Ireland, but both players emerged from this game unscathed.
``In a perfect world we would have been able to replace him but the situation meant we felt he needed to stay on the field,'' said Meehan.
``We wanted to start well and keep the ball tight away from home. We felt Irish had been on a run of bad results and if we'd choked them and made life difficult then some self-doubt might have crept in.
``But when we started the match we weren't as positive as we should have been. We let ourselves down badly and just didn't get on the front foot.
``In the second half we were more aggressive and freed the ball up more. We still had a sniff at half-time and if a couple of balls had gone to hand and a couple of better decisions been made it might have been different.''
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes
"People on the outside think unfounded thoughts on Toulon." Tom Hamilton talks to RCT lock Nick Kennedy ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Clermont