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Kidney downplays Hassell-Collins' hat-trick as London Irish continue impressive form

By PA
(Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney preferred to focus on the team rather than any individual after Ollie Hassell-Collins’ hat-trick inspired them to a 43-21 victory against Newcastle Falcons.

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The Exiles continued their improved form in the Gallagher Premiership by running in six tries at the Brentford Community Stadium, with Hassell-Collins displaying his impressive finishing abilities.

They go into the start of the European Challenge Cup campaign, and their opening match at French side Pau, with just one loss in their last eight matches and confidence building.

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Eddie Jones on Zach Mercer
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Eddie Jones on Zach Mercer

Kidney said: “We don’t care who touches the ball down, as long as somebody does.

“Ollie has been motoring well for us and I’m glad for him, but all of those tries were good team tries.

“I was pleased with how we kept playing, and that’s what we need to do: we just need to keep playing.

“We can’t go into our shells, sides are built differently and we’re built to play, and we played for that much longer today, which is pleasing.

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“It’s about applying pressure and taking your opportunities when they come.

“Today, we took them and we’ve had days where we didn’t. That’s the difference, isn’t it?

“We’ve got a good atmosphere afterwards, as against previous results.

“We’re delighted with today, but we’re not going to get too carried away with ourselves because we know, from other ones, it’s a slim line between winning and losing matches.”

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London Irish eased into 28-14 half-time lead, with Hassell-Collins running in twice and Kyle Rowe and Steve Mafi also going over, while Sean Robinson and Callum Chick replied for Newcastle.

Hassell-Collins completed his hat-trick before Agustin Creevy got in on the act for the Exiles, rendering Adam Radwan’s late score for the Falcons just a consolation.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Credit to London Irish because they’re a good side who played well on the day, but we have to look to ourselves.

“We gave them soft tries, we conceded far too easily and didn’t take our own opportunities.

“The players are understandably disappointed in the changing room because it means a lot to them and they’ve worked hard during the week to put in a big performance, and it hasn’t happened.

“We’ll address it as a group, as we always do, and the boys will be very subdued on the long bus trip home.

“We won’t make any excuses – we just weren’t good enough on the day, and credit must go to London Irish for being much more clinical in executing their game plan.

When asked how he’ll be approaching the upcoming European games, he said: “It’s a tough one, because we play Worcester and then we have a bye week going into the Boxing Day Premiership game against Sale.”

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