Booth credits Exeter effort
October 22, 2010
George Stowers takes a tackle from Tom Hayes during London Irish's victory at Sandy Park © Getty Images
London Irish coach Toby Booth praised Premiership newcomers Exeter Chiefs following the Exiles victory at Sandy Park on Saturday.
The Exiles won 12-9 to remain top of the standings, but Booth was full of praise the organisation and endeavour of the unfancied Devon side.
"It was a game of two halves - they won the first and we won the second. I was really impressed with Exeter, they were well organised, well coached and very committed," he said.
Despite Irish's high standing, Booth insisted his side was taking nothing for granted. He said: "We are still learning - we have a long way to go. The last three seasons we've been near the top of the Premiership at Christmas but have fallen away so it's important we maintain the momentum."
It could have been different for both sides, especially if the Chiefs had managed to take advantage of Irish losing Delon Armitage to the sin-bin for a high tackle in the second half. But Exeter's set piece fell apart in the second half and the hosts failed to gain the possession and territory they needed.
And Exeter's Rob Baxter blamed his side's lineout problems for contributing to the defeat. The head coach said: "It was comfortably our worst lineout performance of the season but all credit to London Irish as they are very strong in that department."
However, Baxter was far from despondent, adding: "I was pleased with our overall performance. Our work ethic and endeavour was there in spades but I'm a little disappointed and we learnt a tough lesson.
"There were too many unforced errors, we let the game slip through our fingers but not many sides will stop Irish from scoring a try in 80 minutes of rugby."
Exeter lost influential fly-half Gareth Steenson with a leg injury after an hour match - and Baxter was unsure as to the extent of the injury. He said: "It's too early to assess the damage. He seems okay but nothing is certain until he has a scan in the next couple of days."
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