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London Irish 33-33 Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership
Smith slams "embarrassing" Irish
ESPN Staff
April 1, 2013
London Irish's Halani Aulika crashes over to score, London Irish v Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, March 31, 2013
Halani Aulika scored one of London Irish's three tries © Getty Images
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London Irish may have all but secured Aviva Premiership safety but director of rugby Brian Smith labelled the performance in their 33-33 draw with Sale as "embarrassing".

Irish led 14-3 thanks to tries from Guy Armitage and Halani Aulika inside 10 minutes, and also held a three-point advantage during the dying seconds after Max Lahiff's try had helped them battle back from a poor start to the second half. But Sale fly-half Nick Macleod held his nerve to slot a last-gasp penalty to earn the Sharks a share of the spoils.

The draw moves the Exiles 12 points clear of bottom club London Welsh with just three games remaining, but Smith was unimpressed after seeing his side squander a winning position.

"We got such a handy lead to begin with and then we sat back and admired our good work," he said. "We showed good fighting qualities to come back from that but it is embarrassing to score two tries and go to sleep.

"We did some good things, but defensively we were a shambles and that's very disappointing as last week against Worcester we could have played for three hours and not conceded."

The Sharks took a three-point haul away from the Madejski Stadium as they claimed a bonus point thanks to tries from Henry Thomas, Mark Cueto, Kearnan Myall and James Gaskell. They are now eight points clear of London Welsh, who lost 40-25 at Bath on Saturday. But their head coach Lyn Jones praised the efforts of his side as they battle to avoid the drop after the blow of losing their appeal against a five-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.

"All I can ask our players is to give everything, every week and that's what they're doing," he said. "We've got three fixtures left and we've just got to keep plugging away. There's lots of spirit, lots of heart - there's lots that's good in our game. We're just waiting for a little luck to perhaps shine down on us. We've just got to take things down to the wire on May 4."

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