DECLAN Kidney believes London Irish 'have increased the target on their backs' after moving nine points clear at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table at the halfway stage, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles produced a strong second-half display to beat Richmond 47-12 at Madejski Stadium on Sunday, but Kidney has warned his side there is a long way to go before they reach their target of an immediate return to the Gallagher Premiership.

He told the Chronicle: "For the half-way stage, it’s a good position for us to be in.

"We knew coming into the season there would be a target on our backs and we’ve probably just increased it the way we’ve done in the first half.

"It’s all to play for and we’re delighted with where we are, but nine points, when you play the top teams, it’s really only one result which can turn that round."

Irish face a key run of fixtures as they visit Nottingham tomorrow (Friday, 7.45pm), before hosting fourth-placed Jersey Reds the following Sunday.

They then welcome Coventry to Madejski Stadium in the RFU Championship Cup on Sunday, February 3, before visiting in-form Bedford in the league.

But centre Tom Stephenson – man-of-the-match against Richmond – said their attention is very much one game at a time.

He commented: "I know a few of the Bristol boys and they said their hardest game (last season) was Nottingham away, so we're under no illusions that it's going to be a tough game.

"Earlier in the season we got a pretty comfortable win, but we know now they're a different side – they're higher up in the league – so it's not going to be an easy battle on Friday night.

"We've got a short turnaround and we really need to focus everything onto Nottingham.

"Every game is pretty important for us and we aren't looking too far ahead."