NICK Kennedy paid tribute to his London Irish side after they completed a 74-25 aggregate victory in their Greene King IPA play-off semi-final against Doncaster Knights on Saturday.

Exiles went into the game at Madejski Stadium with a huge 35-3 lead after the first leg, but they again showed their class to win 39-22 on the day and set up a two-legged final against Yorkshire Carnegie.

Tries from David Paice, Alex Lewington, Ben Franks, Dave Porecki and Scott Steele, allied to 14 points from the boot of the division’s top scorer Tommy Bell, ensured a comfortable win against last season’s runners up.

And Director of Rugby Kenneddy said: “I’m pleased with the win and I’m pleased we’ve made it through to the finals, which is what we’ve been working towards all season.

“The boys have played some great rugby over the past few weeks. We’ve beaten Doncaster three times in a row and they are a strong side who are well coached by Clive Griffiths and his backroom team.

“Doncaster have been one of the best teams in the league this season and we saw what they can do on Saturday.

“They really stretched us at times and they worked extremely hard for each other, which makes the win even more pleasing.”

Irish play the first leg of their final at the Headingley Carnegie ground next Wednesday, May 17 (7.45pm), before welcoming their rivals back to Madejski Stadium seven days later.

Exiles have beaten Carnegie three times this season and will start as big favourites having also ended the league 17 points clear of the second-placed side.

But Kennedy said: “We’ll prepare for the finals as we would any other game and we’re happy with the extra preparation time.

“The non-playing squad deserve a mention too, as they’ve been superb and have brought huge energy to training sessions day in, day out.

“There is great competition for a place in the squad at present and the coaches have long debates that go on for hours when picking the team.

“A lot of guys narrowly missed out on a place in the squad at the weekend, and I know they’re all disappointed as they’d like to be out on the pitch.”