Lack of concentration to blame for defeat, says London Irish bossBy Alan Manicom
November 25, 2012
Brian Smith blamed London Irish's 27-23 home defeat by Exeter Chiefs on a lack of concentration in defence during the opening 20 minutes.
Tries from Leo Halavatau and Topsy Ojo helped Exiles fight back from 21-3 to take the lead 23-21, only for Exeter to pull away again and snatch their first away win of the season in the Aviva Premiership.
Exiles' director of rugby Brian Smith said: "We gave ourselves a shot to win the game in the second half so I don't have any problems with what happened after we got back in the game.
"I do have a problem with our first 20 minutes.
"We lost concentration and focus in defence on three occasions and we got caned.
"We gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
"We made defensive errors because it was a little bit slippy and they cost us tries.
"It is very rare that a try is scored from one area. It is normally a chain reaction.
"There is an error that is compounded and sometimes it is three errors in a row that lead to a try being scored.
"When you have 15 blokes defending you can cover other people's mistakes, but today when we made a mistake we got punished for it.
"It is one of those things. They got the flier and our job was to run them down.
"We did a good job of that, but with the ebb and flow of the game it was always going to come down to a penalty and they had their penalties at the correct time.
"We missed our chances and then at the end and they managed to get field position and squeeze one more out of us."
Halavatau's try sparked Irish's fightback and Smith revealed that at half-time he reminded his side of their dramatic JP Morgan Sevens final victory in the summer when they recovered from 28-5 down to beat Gloucester 31-28.
Exiles' boss said: "We had a big momentum shift with that pushover try just before half-time.
"I was saying just remember the 7s final. We were on our knees in the first half when we ran out of juice.
"There was enough time for us to score the points in the second half of the 7s final.
"The boys knew what I meant and we tapped into that spirit and we gave ourselves a good shot and salvaged a bonus point."
Exeter clinched victory with tries from Phil Dollman and Luke Arscott and 19 points from the boot of Gareth Steenson.
Irish remain in 11th place in the Aviva Premiership and are now on 11 points, five ahead of bottom-of-the-table Sale Sharks.
On Saturday they go to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford to face London Welsh, who are four points ahead of them in 10th spot.
Smith said: "We only have six days until our next match and the only thing we can do now is prepare for that."
Humphreys kicked 13 points for Irish despite having an upset stomach that threatened to prevent him from continuing at half-time.
He went off briefly in the second half to be checked over following a bang to the head, but returned to continue the match.
Smith said his side had done everything they could to prepare thoroughly for the game.
He added: "We knew we had a relatively young experienced referee, who was red-hot on defenders not rolling away so we worked very hard on that because we knew that would be the case. We re-enforced that part of the game."
But Irish's squad was stretched to breaking point by injuries and international call-ups.
Smith said: "We had eight players away on international duty and another eight injured so in many ways we had to fight with one hand tied behind our back.
"But we knew that would be the case at the beginning of the season.
"The guys who played together all gave it a good crack and gave 100 per cent.
"As a coach that is all you can ask for.
"We might have been short on quality in some areas today, but that is where we are."
Smith, though, is hopeful that many of his internationals will be back for the visit to London Welsh.
He added: "We won't have the English lads back, but we will have everyone else available."