DECLAN Kidney admitted London Irish's third try had proved a game-changer as they repelled a committed Jersey Reds side 27-3 at Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

Exiles avenged their defeat at St Peter earlier in the Greene King IPA Championship to remain nine points clear at the summit, with Josh McNally, Saia Fangia'a, Tom Stephenson and Terence Hepetema crossing the whitewash for a bonus-point success.

Kidney admitted, however, that Stephenson's score towards the back end of the first half had been decisive, Jersey having had a try chalked off by the TMO less than two minutes before.

He told the Chronicle: "The third try for us was pivotal, it gave us great momentum.

"We defended well and managed to hold them out and then went on and took our opportunity.

"Coaches call those the 'Championship moments' and it was a massive swing in the game, a 14-pointer. We were in for the second try earlier when they had a yellow card, but for me the third was pivotal."

He continued: "It was a really tough game and we're delighted to get a win.

"We didn't expect to get the bonus because they're a good team. There were four hold-ups over the line – two each – and it was that type of game.

"Jersey came at us really strongly when we were down there, and we knew they would come at us the same here. It was a day for good players to stand up and take them on and I think both sides went at it. We managed to get the breaks to get those tries.

"I think their position in the league belies it a little bit, their start to the season was a little bit slow, but since that fourth game they've been superb."

The Grand Slam-winning former Ireland coach was pleased with his side, but admitted they still have areas to work on as they build to the end of the season.

He commented: "We're looking for that 80-minute performance which we're still a bit away from.

"When you get relegated everything is questioned, but we're starting to build a side and we kept ourselves in contention up till Christmas.

"The lads now have had the chance to play together more regularly and we're going to try to improve week on week and see where that gets us at the end of the season."

Meanwhile Australian hooker Saia Faangia'a – who came on as an early replacement for Dave Porecki – said it was a tough clash for the forwards.

He confessed: "They were outstanding in their line-out and in the way they were front-footing us in their attack, they were slowing our ball down and we knew it was coming.

"The game was going to be won at the scrum and the line-out, but I thought we nullified them pretty well because they've got big ball-carriers and I thought the game flowed on from there.

"Last time we played them it wasn't on our terms, they score a 100-metre try which is not the London Irish I know.

"To see that was very disappointing, but to come back we relished the opportunity and proved a point. They're a quality outfit, but we stuck to our guns and played pretty well."

He continued: "We're trying to make Madejski our fortress and I think we did. We played really well around our structures and I thought guys like Matt Rogerson, Jake Schatz and Jacob Atkins all stood up. I thought they were outstanding and led us to a good victory.

"I was happy with the performance and to get a try, and it's important we got the win to stay top of the league as our goal is obviously to go up."