LONDON Irish full back Greig Tonks admitted Saturday's 20-15 Aviva Premiership defeat to Newcastle was the story of their season so far, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles proved competitive throughout, but a brace of Alex Tait tries in five first-half minutes – one from a charge-down and one from a cross-field kick after a missed Exiles tackle – handed the initiative to the visitors who hung on for victory.

It was the third consecutive home league game in which Irish have lost by five points or less after Bath edged to a 22-18 win and Wasps hit back for an 18-14 success, while Nick Kennedy's men also conceded a last-play try to lose 26-20 to Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup.

And a disappointed Tonks told the Chronicle: "It's the story of the year so far. On the last play of the game we're on their try line and close to getting the winning try, but then something happens at the breakdown and it's all done.

"We're all really frustrated, but it's on to next week. We did some good stuff, but little errors let it slip.

"I think the small moments in games are key, we can't afford to be losing line-outs, dropping the ball, missing a tackle, we're getting punished for that. We need to be squeaky clean and give ourselves every chance of putting onto the pitch what we've been practicing on during the week."

A late penalty from Tonks did at least secure a bonus point for Exiles, but they remain 10 adrift of Worcester Warriors with 10 games of the season remaining.

And Tonks continued: "I'd missed the one before so I thought I can't miss two in a row. That point could ultimately be really important, so it's good for us, but we know where we're at in the table and we know we need to pick up as many points as we can."

Kennedy was also left frustrated by his side's 'crucial errors'.

He commented: "It feels like one that got away, we really let ourselves down in the first half. We made some key errors – missed tackles on (Vereniki) Goneva, (Sonatane) Takalua, (Kyle) Cooper and they ended up very costly on the scoreboard for us. Credit to Newcastle, they took their chances very well with an excellent cross-field kick.

"We came out fighting in the second half and we were much improved, and then towards the end in those last few minutes we gave ourselves a chance to win the game, but we just don't nail our detail.

"We don't get things quite right and the game slips away from us. It's those crucial errors at crucial times which ends up costing us".