Sunday 13 April 2014 – 3.00pm
Madejski Stadium, Reading
Aviva Premiership #19
I was philosophical on the train back north last night. No anger, like after the Worcester game. In the end, in the first half London Irish were just far better than the Falcons and we couldn’t live with them. They took their chances, and in the second half we didn’t, despite dominating the game.
The promise of a change in tactics, with a very different backline started and bright sunshine covering most of the pitch in Reading, didn’t really materialise but to be fair I think that cannot be judged too harshly itself because in the first half we just couldn’t get any decent ball. One would hope that if we had, we might have used it properly, as in the second half, but we couldn’t.
There are some positives – the back three of Noah Cato, Ryan Shortland and Sinoti Sinoti looked lively and hungry but didn’t get enough decent ball to work with really. The scrum was solid, Grant Shiells showing no signs of rustiness in his seventy minutes on the pitch. When they came on, Mike Blair and Joel Hodgson showed a marked improvement on those they replaced unfortunately, moving the ball at speed and probing in a way we hadn’t done in the first half. Irish’s defence was strong though.
I don’t really have much to say about the game, we were outplayed and sometimes that just happens. The worrying this is that the longer our losing run goes on – now thirteen successive league defeats – the harder it is to keep morale up in the team and the harder it will be to break the habit. Saracens at home this weekend is hardly ideal, although perhaps we will play to the level of the opposition as happened against Worcester.
What a boost a win against the Heineken Cup semi-finalists would be. However, if we struggle for possession, as in the first half yesterday, and waste whatever we do have, as against Worcester, then Sarries could run rampant really and the downward spiral will continue.
You’d have thought that the Warriors have left it too late to overhaul us at the bottom of the table, and if so then we’ll live to fight again next season, but at the moment there is little sign that any change in tactics or mentality will be tried. In that case, it could be a long 2014/15.
Some good news today with the signing of Rob Hawkins, in a position we are already reasonably strong in but some more strength in depth is always welcome.
We have three games left now, we surely just have to go for it. None of this messing about, ‘trying not to lose’ – that doesn’t seem to be working. As has been said, lets throw everything at Saracens and at least if it doesn’t work we’ll have had a good go and be able to feel proud after the game.
That’s about all I can think of right now. Goodnight.
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