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London Irish

  • Tagicakibau,
    Penalty goals: Humphreys (3),
14 - 19

Northampton

  • Wilson,
    Penalty goals: Myler (4),
    Conversions: Myler,
  • Aviva Premiership
  • 3rd Nov 2013
  • KO 14:00
  • Ground: Madejski Stadium
  • Att: 7,247

James O'Connor concedes pace of Aviva Premiership took him by surprise after London Irish debut against Northampton

Last updated: 3rd November 2013   Subscribe to RSS Feed

James O'Connor concedes pace of Aviva Premiership took him by surprise after London Irish debut against Northampton

James O'Connor: Produced an excellent debut for London Irish

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James O'Connor acknowledged that the pace of the Aviva Premiership had taken him by surprise after his debut for London Irish ended in a narrow defeat to the Northampton Saints.

The Australian - who has signed for the Exiles on a short-term contract as he bids to get his career back on track after disciplinary problems in his homeland - produced a hugely promising individual display as his new side went down 19-14.

His performance was described by Irish director of rugby Brian Smith as "outstanding", but the 23-year-old conceded that he had been taken aback by the tempo of the contest.

"The speed of the game was very surprising," he said. "I thought Super Rugby was fast but I was really blowing out there, that's for sure.

"It felt great. The club and all the boys have been awesome since I arrived and I am really looking forward to my time here.

"I didn't feel 100 percent and can get better. I wanted to perform. It was one of the best pitches I have played on. It was just a shame we could not get the win."

O'Connor set up the hosts' lone try from wing Sailosi Tagicakibau and Smith praised the new arrival for how he had handled himself since arriving earlier in the week.

"James was outstanding," Smith said. "He's 23 and is still just a kid who gets up in the morning and puts his trousers on one leg at a time like everyone else.

Praise from Smith

"A lot has happened quickly to him but he's settled in straight away and showed his class today. The boys enjoyed playing with him today.

"We see him as 15, even though many see him as a jack of all trades who has played right along the back line. And he wants to establish himself as a full-back."

Irish remained near the foot of the table after failing to capitalise on their second-half dominance, failing to convert their try-scoring chances as they looked to overturn a 16-11 interval deficit.

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder was delighted to see his side grind out a fifth victory in seven league outings, especially having lost a number of his most influential performers to international duty.

"We made heavy work of it, but a win is a win," Mallinder stated. "Irish are a tough challenge here, so I have to be pleased."

"We have lost a lot of our players to England but we are managing to get by fine. It's important we maintain our momentum and this will help."

Northampton flanker Phil Dowson, who produced a man-of-the-match performance, added: "The final whistle could not come quickly enough. We were under real pressure from them.

"It was a gutsy performance and another crucial win. It always feels good to get a win away from home."

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Aviva Premiership
Friday 28th November
Aviva Premiership
19:45Bath vs Harlequins
Saturday 29th November
15:00Leicester Tigers vs Wasps
16:30Exeter vs Saracens
Sunday 30th November
13:00London Irish vs Gloucester
14:30London Welsh vs Northampton
15:15Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks
Saturday 20th December
14:00Sale vs Exeter
15:00Gloucester vs Bath
15:00Saracens vs London Welsh
15:00Harlequins vs Newcastle
15:00Northampton vs Leicester
Sunday 21st December
14:00Wasps vs London Irish
Friday 26th December
15:00London Irish vs London Welsh
Saturday 27th December
14:00Sale vs Leicester
15:00Bath vs Exeter
15:00Newcastle vs Saracens
15:00Gloucester vs Wasps
15:00Harlequins vs Northampton
Saturday 3rd January
15:00Exeter vs Gloucester
15:00Saracens vs London Irish
15:00Leicester vs Bath
15:00Northampton vs Newcastle
Sunday 4th January
14:00Wasps vs Sale
14:30London Welsh vs Harlequins
Saturday 10th January
14:00Sale vs Northampton

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