Tactical tweaks reap huge rewards as much-changed Blues beat London Irish in dramatic fashion
Newbury Blues head coach James McAvoy felt a number of tactical changes and some defiant defending proved decisive as his side ended London Irish Wild Geese’s six-match winning run with a 19-17 victory at a packed Monks Lane.
McAvoy made nine – mostly enforced – changes and tweaked his side’s set up as Blues set out to stifle free-scoring Irish.
Debutant Robin Swann – who marked his first cap with a sensational solo try – lined up on the left-wing, while Scotsman Euan Lindsay started his first Blues game at scrum half, allowing Toby Thorne to move to full-back and Jamie Futcher to switch to the right-wing.
“We had to deal with a lot of changes,” McAvoy said.
“It’s not ideal but the boys have again proved they can make the step up. Robin (Swann) has taken his chance and I thought that Euan Lindsay was outstanding.
“Euan only came down from Scotland three weeks ago but we knew straight away that he was a fantastic guy.
“Right from the first training session, he was vocal in terms of where we needed to improve and where he needed support. To have him, Toby Thorne and Tom Hunt available at nine is great depth in that position.
“Klichy (Michael Klichowicz) was out, so we moved Toby Thorne to full-back and he was superb.
“It adds another level of distribution and his kicking game is fantastic. Having Euan, Dan (Thorne) and Toby in those core positions allowed us to play the way we wanted to.”
Defensively, Blues were able to limit Irish – who have averaged more than 40 points per game this term – to two tries and 17 points.
McAvoy said: “Our work at the breakdown and our defending on the inside was a credit to the boys.
“We’ll make the most of this week off and then look ahead to Winchester.”