Smith says pack power set up Irish romp over Saints

SECOND BEST - the Saints pack was dominated at London Irish on Saturday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
SECOND BEST - the Saints pack was dominated at London Irish on Saturday (Picture: Linda Dawson)

London Irish boss Brian Smith felt dominating Saints in the scrum was the reason why his side were able to land a knockout blow on Saturday.

Struggling Irish ran riot, sealing a bonus-point 39-17 win at the Madejski Stadium.

Smith’s side dominated in every area of the pitch, with the backline especially benefiting from the space afforded to them.

But while the Irish director of rugby was impressed with the likes of centre Jonathan Joseph and fly-half Ian Humphreys, who was named man of the match, he felt his forwards were the ones who put in the hardest yards.

“We had a dress rehearsal for this game against Bath, who came to take us on and kick the front door down with their forwards at scrum time and in the drive,” said Smith.

“We met that challenge a couple of weeks ago, and the boys really fronted up to it on Saturday.

“They got no change out of us at scrum time and in the lineout drive - we met the challenge there. Then we’ve got a lot of class in the backline, which is good to see.”

Irish’s win against Bath had been their only victory heading into the game against a Saints side who had won all five of their previous Premiership games.

But the form book was turned on its head on Saturday, and Smith admitted his side’s win lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

“It’s a big relief,” he said. “You always want to play well at home in front of the supporters so it’s good.

“We’ve got two very good Irish half-backs and they steered us round. Ian Humphreys was very good with his distribution and Tomas (O’Leary) is a class act.

“But it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t fronted up.”