Kidney hails Exiles‘ ‘strange bunch‘ for hard-earned draw

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney hailed his team as they overcame the dismissal of Ollie Hoskins to secure a thoroughly deserved draw with high-flying Bristol at Ashton Gate.

Prop Hoskins was dismissed by referee Wayne Barnes for a shoulder charge to the cheek of Bristol lock Chris Vui, but his side regrouped to go toe-to-toe with Bristol in a second half which contained six tries.

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Bristol scored four of them through Nathan Hughes, Charles Piutau, Ed Holmes and Harry Thacker, with Callum Sheedy kicking a penalty and conversion. Ioan Lloyd also added a conversion. Ben Meehan, Waisake Naholo and Tom Parton scored tries for Irish, with Stephen Myler adding two penalties and three conversions.

Kidney said: “It was one of the better draws I‘ve been involved in as you don‘t want to go down to 14 men against a side like Bristol. The one thing you can‘t coach is attitude but we had bucket loads of that today.

“We are a strange bunch, we are from all over the world with 12 nationalities yet they are prepared to do it for each other. We‘d a training session last Wednesday and a few boys who weren‘t in the team today were genuinely disappointed at not being included, which stood us in good stead.

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“We are a growing team and I count myself lucky to be in this job.”

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam was critical of his side‘s display. “Last week, we had one of the best wins of the season (36-0 at Brive) and we wanted to kick on and hopefully get the five points to get us back to the top of the table,” said Lam.

“So it‘s incredibly frustrating as we missed a great opportunity. We needed to be ruthless but we kept them in it with poor kicking when we should have put them away. We gave them soft points and didn‘t finish off a number of line-breaks.”

Bristol missed a number of kickable penalties, with Sheedy and Lloyd both off target with relatively straightforward kicks.

Lam said: “You need to kick your goals – 3-0, 6-0, 9-0 and so forth to build pressure and we couldn‘t do that.”

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