REACTION: Nick Kennedy thanks the crowd as London Irish win “game of two halves”

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Nick Kennedy was delighted with the first half attacking display

London Irish director of rugby says his player’s scintillating first half display was down to the record-breaking crowd at Madejski Stadium.

The largest ever Championship attendance of 11,671 packed in to watch the annual St Patrick’s Party clash and were rewarded to a 39-10 victory over Cornish Pirates, over 500 more than the previous record when Bristol faced London Welsh in 2015.

REPORT: Irish give fans St Patrick’s Party to remember

A staggering 34 of those points arrived in a devastating half an hour first spell before the break with Topsy Ojo, David Paice, Sebastian De Chaves, Ben Ransom (2) and Alex Lewington all crossing the whitewash before Ojo added his second late on.

And Kennedy says the fans played a key role in the first half display.

Sebastian De Chaves was one of six first half Irish try scorers

“I think the boys really fed off the crowd,” he said.

“We had over 11,500 people here, our biggest crowd of the season by a mile.

“It just clicked for the guys. I thought our attack was outstanding. The boys trained well all week – Clark Laidlaw has come up with a couple of moves that worked really well.

“They were clinical finishes from Alex Lewington and Ben Ransom. They really backed themselves and it paid off.”

He continued: “I think the boys didn’t know what hit them when they ran out.

“I attribute that to their performance in the first 30 minutes. The crowd can give us so much energy and if we can get that crowd down for the semi-final, they could be the difference.”

After the excitement of the first half, Exiles found themselves pinned back in their own 22 for the majority of the second.

Senitiki Nayalo played a key role in Cornish Pirates’ first tryt

However, the home defence stayed firm to keep Pirates at bay with Ojo’s last gasp try the only score of the second period with the win confirming top spot for Irish.

And Kennedy admits it was a game for both areas of his team.

“It was a real game of two halves,” he said.

“The first was great for our attack, the second one was good for our defence. But there’s still things to improve.

“I think their first try, Senitiki (Nayalo) knocked the guy’s arm and he knocked the ball forward. I think everyone stopped because it was a clear knock on.

“But the second try was soft from us. Take that out of the equation and I think in the second half we defended really well – to nil Pirates¬†when they had that much ball, their possession stats in the second half would’ve been through the roof.

“Then to score the try at the end, end the game on a high, was very pleasing for us.”

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