Smith ponders personnel rethink
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was left with a selection headache after his team gave themselves an excellent chance of progressing to the semi-finals of the LV= Cup with a 46-24 win over Worcester.
Marland Yarde was the star performer with a hat-trick of tries, while Halani Aulika collected a brace of scores and Tom Homer kicked 16 points in a deserved victory for the hosts. The result put Irish top of Pool Three, and they travel to Cardiff for their final game next Friday knowing a bonus-point win would guarantee their berth in the next round.
"We intended to take a development squad to Cardiff next weekend for the final group game and concentrate on our vital Premiership game against the Saracens in a fortnight's time, but now we will have to sit down and have a rethink as we have got a real chance of playing in the knockout stages of a tournament," Smith said.
Smith was hugely impressed with his team's six-try display - Danny Gray also darted over at the Madejski Stadium.
"We were very good in the first half as defensively we gave them nothing putting pressure on their nine and 10," he said. "We stayed on their tails but we were a bit ropey in defence when we made our changes and there are no excuses for that."
Yarde's treble earned him particular praise from his coach.
"Marland's performance was electric," Smith added. "I have spoken to (England head coach) Stuart Lancaster about him as there is not another winger in the country who would have scored that try. It was as if his hair was on fire."
Despite the heavy loss, Worcester coach Richard Hill remained upbeat.
"Parts of our play were very encouraging," he said. "Our set-piece was strong and we scored three tries away from home. However, we leaked tries too easily and our defence was a problem. Our defence analyst, Phil Larder, has been away for three weeks and he will be back on Tuesday.
"We missed a lot of ball-carriers today as we kept players back, but we will be fielding a full-strength side against the Saracens next week in readiness for the return to Premiership action."