London Irish coach Les Kiss has vowed to let his freewheeling side continue to throw the ball about even if it means more dramatic finishes to their matches.
The Exiles staged yet another fightback to beat Cardiff on Saturday to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, battling back from 32-20 down in the final 10 minutes to win 41-35 – despite playing with 14 men for most of the second half.
Irish travel to Bath on Friday for a place in the semi-finals just two weeks after beating the West Country side 33-32 in another dramatic match at Brentford in the Premiership.
In addition to that fighting display to beat Cardiff, Irish have also staged remarkable last-gasp comebacks from losing positions to draw with leaders Bristol and local rivals Harlequins and although Kiss admits he’d prefer more straight-forward performances, he won’t tell his players to change.
“I wouldn’t say we lose focus, but we don’t focus completely on how we put pressure on other teams and too often we release pressure in that final third and let’s teams of the hook,” Kiss said.
“But in saying that, I won’t coach to stop their ambition or vision to see space and play to it.
“Errors do happen sometimes but we just have to back ourselves.
“We just have to understand that there is a balance there and we need to find that sweet spot of going for things and using your skill-set and hopefully that gets you where you want to.
“By doing that we have been able to get back into games and win a few of them.”
Australian international scrum-half Nick Phipps, who won the Super Rugby competition with the NSW Waratahs in 2014, admits it’s been fun playing in so many dramatic matches, but said it is also a sign of how the side has matured since last season where they lost 10 of their last 11 matches.
“I wish I could say it’s a plan of ours to keep everybody on the edge of their seats, but there has been some cracking games so far, you just wish there were a few fans there to see them,” Phipps said.
“The main thing I’ve enjoyed over the last 12-14 months is the maturity of the group. If you are being brutally honest a few of the games we have won this season we probably would have rolled over in last season.
“We wouldn’t have had the maturity or the mental strength to know how to win from those situations.
“We probably shouldn’t be putting ourselves in those situations to begin with, but if we get one or two of those things right and don’t find ourselves behind by 15 points we have the makings of being a good side at the pointy end of the season.”