New boss Declan Kidney upbeat despite seeing London Irish edged out in thriller

New boss Declan Kidney upbeat despite seeing London Irish edged out in thriller
London Irish Coaches Les Kiss and Declan Kidney before the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Martin Bennett.

New London Irish boss Declan Kidney has no doubt about the Exiles' Aviva Premiership credentials despite them suffering another damaging defeat.

Although Irish claimed two bonus points in a 33-29 Madejski Stadium loss against Gloucester, they are 10 adrift of 11th-placed Worcester with just four games remaining.

A quickfire return to the Championship beckons after one season back in the top flight, yet technical consultant Kidney is far from downbeat.

"I've seen the structure in behind the club," former Ireland head coach Kidney said.

"I believe it is strong enough to be there (in the Premiership), absolutely.

"There were things to encourage me today, but we still lost. That is the flip side of the coin. At the end of the day, it was a game when we came out second.

"There are a series of big games. We have another massive game in two weeks' time against Harlequins, and we need to get ourselves right for that.

"You could break the game into four quarters today. The first quarter we did reasonably OK and we managed to get points and do what we wanted to do.

"The second quarter, we probably need to learn how to manage our game, and that's not any one person, that is everybody. The third quarter, there were also some issues that I know we can address, and the fourth quarter we finished quite well.

"I know that winning can be a habit and losing can be a habit, and we just need to learn how to finish off these games."

Irish led by 17 points after 18 minutes thanks to tries by lock Josh McNally, who was playing his first game for Irish since undergoing corrective heart surgery earlier this season, and scrum-half Piet van Zyl, while full-back James Marshall added two conversions and a penalty.

But Gloucester wiped out that deficit before the break in front of a 15,200 crowd as hooker James Hanson, wing Tom Marshall and flanker Lewis Ludlow touched down in rapid succession, with Billy Twelvetrees kicking two conversions.

And the second period began with Gloucester in dominant mood as Marshall scored a second try and centre Mark Atkinson also breached Irish's defence - fly-half Billy Burns added both conversions - but the hosts responded impressively through tries by number 10 Theo Brophy Clews and wing Joe Cokanasiga, plus a Tommy Bell conversion.

Gloucester's win moved them into the top five, keeping them firmly among the play-off contenders.

Head coach Johan Ackermann said: "At 17-0, I was lost for words in the sense that it was mistake after mistake, penalty after penalty and we didn't see the ball. They got the points.

"To claw it back before half-time was a big positive. A lot of character was shown to score three good tries and be back in the contest.

"There are tough games ahead, and the fact that results in other games will play a part. We are excited about the win, but there is nothing to get excited about the season yet. There is too much work to be done.

"I said when I arrived at the club that there was going to be a process. We will take the win. The character was there, and the work is not going to stop."

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