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Tom Coventry relieved as London Irish move off foot of table at Falcons' expense

Published 10/01/2016

London Irish head coach Tom Coventry said after the 20-15 defeat of Newcastle:
London Irish head coach Tom Coventry said after the 20-15 defeat of Newcastle: "I'm sure it won't go down in the highlights package of rugby play in the stadium."

London Irish head coach Tom Coventry admitted to breathing a sigh of relief at the final whistle of the 20-15 Aviva Premiership win over Newcastle.

Shane Geraghty's second-half introduction sparked life into the game as he provided assists for Alex Lewington - straight from the restart - and Topsy Ojo within the space of five minutes.

Allied to two Chris Noakes penalties, those efforts put the Exiles 20-0 up, but Nili Latu and Marcus Watson crossed in response as the visitors fought back to within five points.

Newcastle battered the door down before Irish turned the ball over in the last play of the game, and Coventry said the performance underlines why his team remain a work in progress - despite moving off the foot of the table at the expense of their opponents.

"There's a lot of relief in the changing room," said Coventry. "It was a pretty dire game to watch, I'm sure it won't go down in the highlights package of rugby play in the stadium.

"But if you had told me on Monday that we were going to win, I would have been pretty happy.

"What's disappointing is that we had such a nice lead and we weren't able to manage our way through it. I suppose that's a sign of where we're at as a team.

"We don't win a lot, and then when you get a nice buffer, being able to control yourself till the finish line would have been nice.

"We made it, through our own fault again, a battle and it was hard work to finish the game.

"It was pretty difficult to watch, I was squirming up there in my seat waiting for the final whistle to go."

The result is all the more disappointing for Newcastle after their impressive victory over Bath last week.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards pointed to a lengthy injury list which forced them to hand a short-term contract to Andy Goode, who scored five points against the team he initially signed for in the summer before announcing his retirement.

Richards explained: "I feel sorry for (backs coach) Dave Walder in many ways. You look at the guys who are injured.

"We're probably lacking that little bit of X Factor which you get with guys like (Alesana) Tuilagi, Sinoti Sinoti, Mike Delany, (Gonzalo) Tiesi, (Sonatane) Takulua and (Ruki) Tipuna.

"We've got a full international backline which is out at this moment in time and even though we scored twice and created four more opportunities, we're still not scoring and converting as many as we want to.

"London Irish didn't look like scoring (a try) other than on those two occasions and that was the disappointing thing."

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