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Defeat hits Burnell hard

London Welsh moved a step closer to relegation with an eleventh consecutive Aviva Premiership defeat at the hands of London Irish, who began the days as the nearest club to them in the table.

Head coach Justin Burnell was frustrated after a game which was close for a long time slid away from his side in the second half and end in a 24-9 loss.

"It was a game we wanted to win," he said. "It was billed as an important game and we are bitterly disappointed for at certain stages, I thought we could win.

"We were able to keep the ball to go into half-time in contention and at 17-9 (down) midway through the second half we were well in the game."

Welsh battled harder than in recent weeks but tries from Tom Court, Geoff Cross and Alex Lewington rewarded a dominant Irish pack. Tom Homer converted all three and kicked a penalty, with three penalties from Will Robinson being the only response from the visitors.

Such was the dominance of the home eight that they should have picked up a bonus point, which their Director of Rugby, Brian Smith, accepted.

He said: "I am relieved but I have mixed emotions as with 10 minutes I thought we could have squeezed out a bonus point.

"The win was obtained purely on the back of our forwards but at pitchside you could see how difficult conditions were as it was raining heavily and the pitch was very slippy."

The major talking point of the game was the double dismissal of Welsh captain Tom May and Irish replacement Dan Leo in the 34th minute. May swung an elbow into the face of Leo, who retaliated by wrestling his opponent to the floor and striking him to earn his red card.

Burnell said: "We saw the incident involving (Northampton hooker) Dylan Hartley last week and there is obviously a similarity for the referee to consider.

"Tom May is distraught as it's probably the first time in his career that he's been dismissed and he feels he's lets his team-mates down."

Smith also alluded to the Hartley incident in offering his opinion on the red cards.

He said: "It certainly shone a light so the match officials had to make a call based on that.

"As a result the offence became fashionable but the issue of cards needs to be proportional. Dan Leo is very upset and not a thug so we will be strongly defending our boy as we believe he may have been hard done by."

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