DEFENCE coach Declan Danaher heaped praise on London Irish's young guns after they inspired Exiles to a 27-17 home win against Coventry and a spot in the RFU Championship Cup semi-finals on Sunday, writes Richard Ashton.

Academy stars Ben Loader – who scored the crucial third try – Jacob Atkins, who kicked 12 points, Matt Williams and Isaac Curtis-Harris all impressed as Declan Kidney's side set up a last-four showdown at home to Yorkshire Carnegie.

And Danaher told the Chronicle: "They're coming on nicely and the beauty is they all know each other.

"They've played with each other coming up through the age groups and it's something London Irish have always done well, bringing guys through and giving them an opportunity."

He continued: "Jacob's done really well in the last two weeks, but I'm also really pleased for Matty – he can play on the wing, he can play at 12 or 13. He just steps in and gets on with it.

"I thought he had a really good game and some of his ball carries, he's a tough guy to bring down.

"He doesn't know when he's tackled and he's like a little rubber ball where he just keeps going.

"He's starting to string some games together which is great for us."

Table-topping Exiles return to Greene King IPA Championship action with a tough test at third-placed Bedford Blues on Saturday, and Danaher is under no illusion of the task ahead against a side who have lost just once at home in the league this term.

He said: "Most of the boys have watched the 100-point game between them and Coventry (Bedford won 53-52) and any Mike Rayer team is very good in attack.

"I've had a look at them and we have an idea what's coming, but at the same time, the way they're playing – they want to attack and counter-attack – and get their forwards into the game and use their big No. 8 (Jarad Williams).

"They'll look to him to off-load and to play around him.

"The good thing is we've been down there once already this season, because I think when teams go there the first time there's a bit of a slope and other bits and pieces which can distract from what we can control."