Smith hails 'gallant' Exiles
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith praised the resilience of his men after Saturday's 29-22 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath.
Two of Smith's team had barely set foot in the club before being thrust into the heat of battle at the Madejski Stadium.
The Exiles started the afternoon rock bottom of the Aviva Premiership, without a win in three matches and having lost all of those by over 40 points.
But tries from Tongan prop Halani Aulika, on his debut, and centre Jonathan Joseph - plus some serious resistence when their backs were to the wall - gave Irish the glory.
Centre Steve Shingler added 19 points with five penalties and two conversions as Bath's Olly Barkley - who, it was announced, is leaving for France after next week's home game against Sale - also kicked five penalties and converted a try from wing Kyle Eastmond.
Irish had flanker Jamie Gibson sent to the sin-bin for a ruck offence on their own line in the second half amid intense pressure from the West Country side, but they managed to keep Bath out.
Former England backs coach Smith said: "I felt our team were very brave and gallant. We had to fight a lot of adversity. Most people won't be aware but two of the guys who came on as replacements were not involved in the captain's run on Friday.
"Alan Cotter flew in on Friday from Munster to join our squad and Jerry Yanuyanutawa flew in from Australia on Friday, so the team had to face a lot of adversity including a massive 8-2 penalty count in the second half and we had to defend our line as if our lives depended on it - and we did it.
"It is a good win and I think we can get a lot of momentum from this. We have to keep our feet on the ground and line up Worcester for Friday night.
"We had to stop the drive today and we did that. The defence was outstanding and we showed we can break out and score but guys like Matt Garvey were huge in the pack and all the forwards played their part.
"We have stayed focused. Sport is a great leveller and it is great to get out of the blocks. Yes, it is a relief but now we have to go and do it all again on Friday.
"I'm pleased for the players because if people looked only at the points on the table, they would think we have done nothing and achieved nothing so far this season. That is not an accurate reflection."
Bath head coach Gary Gold felt his side made the right decision in going for tries when they had the hosts on the rack after flanker Jamie Gibson was yellow-carded for a ruck offence.
Despite Barkley's wonderful kicking this season, they went for a line-out when they were awarded a penalty 10 metres from the Irish line. And Gold admitted Bath had "enough penalty-kick chances to win the game".
Captain Stuart Hooper held his hand up to say it was his decision to go for tries, and said: "The rationale was that they just had a guy put in the sin-bin who was doing a lot of work in their defensive line-out.
"We felt we had them on the rack and felt we could have scored."
Gold said: "The balance in the first couple of weeks was there was a perception of criticism around the fact that we were kicking everything and we are a boring team.
"That is not what our intention is, though. We want to have that balance to back ourselves. They had a guy in the sin-bin and I back Stuart's decision 100 per cent. As a group of coaches, we thought it was the right decision.
"We are not just going to do that (kick goals) all day long and hope we win. We want to score tries."
On the subject of goal-kicking, Gold added that Bath have enough fire-power in the squad to account for the loss of 30-year-old Barkley when he joins French club Racing Metro after next Saturday's home clash with Sale.
Gold said: "Stephen Donald is a World Cup-winning kicker, Sam Vesty is a kicker, Tom Heathcote is an outstanding talent and Jack Cuthbert can kick.
"So Olly is in that position at the moment and that is why he took the kicks, but we're lucky we have very good international players who have played at that level.
"He was just the one assigned to take the kicks today and when he is gone, someone else will be assigned."