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Declan Kidney hails London Irish conditioning after another comeback

By PA
Declan Kidney of London Irish

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Declan Kidney highlighted London Irish’s conditioning as they pulled off another miraculous comeback to draw 34-34 with Saracens despite playing nearly an hour with 14 men.

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With Adam Coleman sent off in the first half, and Irish trailing 34-8 with less than 20 minutes to go the game looked over, but Kyle Rowe grabbed a hat-trick and Rory Jennings nailed a last-minute conversion from out wide to secure an unlikely draw – the third for the Exiles this season who are becoming the masters of overcoming huge deficits.

Director of rugby Kidney said: “I think you need to watch the effort that goes in because there was a lot of good rugby, I think that’s a collective effort between players, coaches and the medical team having everyone in that condition against a top-class side like Saracens.

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Dave Rennie
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Dave Rennie

“We’re absolutely delighted with the comeback and that’s the important thing to recognise right now straight after the match, to draw when you’re away from home and get three points is never a bad day’s work and then in the cold light of day we’ll take a look at the bits that we can improve on, because we know that there’s so much scope for us to get better.

“Sport is emotional, if you don’t roll with the emotions then you shouldn’t be involved in it, we came back at the end, we got a conversion, that conversion was for an extra point, we had two points in the bag anyway, it’s an extra point that at the end of the season could be vital for us.”

Saracens had looked in total control, with Rotimi Segun grabbing two of their five tries at Stone X Stadium.

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But Mark McCall admitted their defence had not been up to scratch throughout, while paying tribute to the Exiles’ fighting qualities.

He said: “It’s very hard to put your finger on why what happened, happened, but the very first thing is to congratulate London Irish.

“It was a magnificent display by them with 14 men, they’ve been doing this all season, they’ve done it again and they’re a club with some real fight and some real quality and we knew that, and to come back from 34-8 down with 14 men is something special.

“It’s probably a combination of things, maybe thinking the game was done and dusted which most people thought at 34-8, but we hadn’t been defending well all game to be honest.

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“There were some tell-tale signs in the last 20 minutes of the first half when they were down to 14 men, they had some opportunities near our line and our defensive team confidence got worse and worse I thought, we were easy to play against, and fair play to them for taking full advantage.”

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