DECLAN Kidney hailed London Irish’s team spirit after they held off a brave Cornish Pirates fightback to seal a 38-27 Greene King IPA Championship victory at Madejski Stadium on Saturday, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles appeared to have the game under control as they moved 33-8 up midway through the second half, only for the visitors to score three converted tries to worry the home faithful.

Irish were also reduced to 13 men as Bryce Campbell and Blair Cowan were sin-binned, but they regrouped before captain Josh McNally’s last-play score sealed the victory.

And Director of Rugby Kidney said: “We managed the game well when down to 13 men and put in a massive effort.

“We knew Pirates wouldn’t go away and that they’d come back at us, but the way they slipped in for three tries is something we need to look at.

“(To deal with that) and score late on shows there’s good spirit in the side.”

He continued: “We know we’re not the greatest team on earth, but we play for one another and in rugby if you do that it will be interesting to see where it can take us.

“We’re under no illusions about the size of the task ahead of us.”

The Exiles pack were again outstanding as McNally bagged a brace and Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi and Teofilo Paulo also crossed from close range, and Kidney commented: “Our forwards are showing good energy at the moment, but we can’t go the whole season just playing that way.

“We’re going to have to adapt and adjust our plays a little bit, but when certain teams come out you have to play a certain way.”

Brendan McKibbin and teenage wing Ollie Hassell Collins grabbed the others, with Kidney delighted with the teenage flyer.

He commented: “Ollie did his bit when he had his chance and he stood up well in defence.

“It was a great day for him to be a part of with Topsy was breaking the record – our two wings had 292 caps between them.”

Meanwhile McNally, who was overlooked for the man-of-the-match honours in favour of Ojo, was delighted with the efforts of the pack.

He said: “We’ve been looking for an identity in the pack and really honing our skills and especially the maul. We’re priding ourselves on that and it’s coming to the fore we can put points on with it.”

He concluded: “Topsy has been a huge servant to the club for so many years now and you won’t see many people get over 300 games for a club, so his loyalty means he fully deserves that man-of-the-match award.”