NICK Kennedy praised a gutsy performance from London Irish in their narrow 22-18 home defeat to Bath on Sunday.

Exiles outscored the visitors by two tries to one, but were punished by the boot of Bath’s Freddie Burns, who scored 17 of their points.

However, Kennedy reserved plenty of praise for his players who spent the last 10 minutes camped on the Bath try line without managing to grab what would have been a winning score.

The defeat was Irish’s seventh in a row, leaving them bottom of the Aviva Premiership as Worcester Warriors defeated Northampton Saints.

Nevertheless, Kennedy stated: “We’re disappointed to lose a very close game, but at the same time I’m really proud of the effort that we put in.

“Once again, we finished the game well and we showed our heart in coming back towards the end of the match.

“Our fitness levels are rising above other teams in the closing stages of games, which is pleasing and we need to continue to build on this.

“I was really pleased with the way the boys trained all week and they bought a lot of that intensity into the game.”

James Marshall ran in a first-half try for Exiles with Matt Banahan crossing for Bath who led 16-11 at the break.

Replacement scrum-half Scott Steele also crossed for Irish in the second-half, but Bath held on after surviving a late period of pressure on their own line as Exiles went through 31 phases without crossing the whitewash.

Villager:

Alex Lewington cuts through the Bath defence last Sunday. Picture: David M.Moore.

And Kennedy hailed Irish supporters for the part they played during the tense finale.

“We felt the crowd in the last 10 minutes of the game when we really needed them,” added Kennedy. “They played a big part in almost getting us over the line at the end.

“The crowd gave us loads of energy and we need their fantastic support next week against an in-form Wasps team, who have a lot of top class players in their ranks.”

Ultimately, it was ill-discipline which eventually cost Exiles with Burns landing four penalties, a drop goal and a conversion.

“Freddie Burns is on fire with the boot at the moment and he did the same to us in the Anglo-Welsh Cup earlier this month,” said Kennedy.

“He kicked very well and credit must go to Bath for playing in the right areas of the field at the right time.”

Irish host Wasps at Madejski Stadium this Sunday (3pm).