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Smith upbeat despite last-gasp loss

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was proud of his side's performance despite seeing them deprived of a remarkable win over high-flying Saracens by a last-gasp Billy Vunipola try.

Sarries led 20-7 at one stage, with tries from Richard Wigglesworth and Tim Streather, before a hat-trick of scores from Irish wing Alex Lewington and another from Blair Cowan looked like causing a considerable upset.

The Exiles were 32-29 up with 15 minutes left, but a last-minute try by Vunipola from a driving maul - converted by Charlie Hodgson - saved Saracens' unbeaten record as the visitors ran out 36-32 winners.

"We got our tactics right and we showed lots of guts and determination as the crowd certainly warmed to our boys, giving them an ovation as they left the field," Smith said.

"We are relatively disappointed as we left three points out there and came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard, but we managed to break up the game against quality opponents."

Irish centre Shane Geraghty had an impressive game, creating a couple of tries as well as kicking two penalties and three conversions, and was disappointed to end up on the losing side.

"In the first half-hour we looked to be on the wrong end of a thumping and not many teams come back from that against a side as strong as the Saracens," he said.

"We did so, and it was unfortunate that we didn't get the result at the end, but we'll take huge positives from the game."

Owen Farrell kicked three penalties and two conversions as Saracens built up a 23-19 half-time lead, with Vunipola's late converted try and two penalties from Alex Goode accounting for their points after the interval.

Goode passed up two simple late penalty opportunities, which left Sarries' nerves jangling and led head coach Mark McCall to acknowledge afterwards that he was a relieved man.

"Owen Farrell picked up a niggle, so he couldn't kick at goal, so we missed a couple of kicks. I probably would have kicked for goal in the last minute, but we leave it to the players on the field," he said.

"Our skipper Brad Barritt made a brave call to go for the attacking line-out and we executed it brilliantly for Billy Vunipola's try.

"Fair play to them - they came with a clever plan to kick in behind our defence but we should have dealt with it better. They are a young, energetic and physical side and a lot of teams will come here and not win this season."

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