Brian Smith says London Irish 'a work in progress'

Brian Smith

Director of rugby Brian Smith says London Irish are "a work in progress" as they look to end a run of four consecutive defeats by beating Gloucester in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

He said his side needed to become more hard-nosed to turn defeats into wins.

"We want to outscore Gloucester but as important we want to make sure we're a very difficult team to score against," Smith told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"We've worked really hard in training on the defensive side of things."

Saturday's fixture at Kingsholm gives London Irish an immediate opportunity to revenge the 29-22 home defeat inflicted by Gloucester in the competition last week.

"Obviously they'll have a spring in their step - for them it was a very good come-from-behind win," said Smith.

"We will be making some changes for a number of reasons, but we'll go down there and as usual try to play our natural positive game. It's a good challenge for us, to get back on the horse against the guys who we felt robbed us last weekend.

"We've had a lot of disruptions with injuries, we had eight or nine players away on international duty, but we're not making excuses. There's a lot of talent, but we've yet to become a hard-nosed winning team. We were aware of that when we inherited the squad.

"But I think we're developing nicely. A lot of elements of our game are improving. We've made massive gains in the set-piece and in our driving game and in our scrummaging.

"We've always been a team that scored plenty of points, certainly in recent times, and we're continuing to do that. We're also making inroads on our defence - prior to last weekend we have been very tight in terms of tries conceded, and we were so at the weekend until we let the cat out of the bag late in the game and it cost us."

Winger Topsy Ojo said the players' confidence had not been affected by a run of six defeats in seven games.

"We've been unlucky in the run we've had, all the defeats have been by small margins - it seems for 10 to 15 minutes in each of the last few games we've had a minor slip-up which costs us," he said.

"It's a case of putting it all together over the full 80 minutes. It's all still there - we've seen in the performances we have caused other teams trouble and scored tries, and on our day we're capable of beating anybody."

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