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Boss expects backlash in Irish return

8th December 2014

Director of Rugby Mark Hammett has warned his Cardiff Blues to expect a fired-up response from London Irish when the teams meet for a second time in a week at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Blues claimed a 24-14 win over the Exiles in the first meeting between the two in the European Rugby Challenge Cup to take top spot in Pool 1.

However, the return clash will explode into life in Reading this weekend and Hammer acknowledges his team must be ready for another stern test if they want to keep dreams of knockout rugby alive in Europe.

“There is no doubt they will come back and we have got to be ready for that,” he said. “Any team that loses is hurt, but likewise we will look to kick on and we need consistency.

“I’m relishing the opportunity of playing against different teams from different countries and mixing it up. You get to benchmark yourself against other others.

“It was one of the attractions for me coming here to coach and one of the long-term goals of the region is to play in the top tier. We’ve got a bit to do until we get to that, but it is certainly one of our visions.

“It’s only halfway done, in terms of the pool,” he added. “We have a return match with London Irish and we have got to play all these teams again.

“One thing I’ve learnt very clearly in sport is as soon as you think that you should win a game it is the biggest indicator you are going to lose. We have three big games to face.”

Hammer also praised the form of winger Richard Smith who shone against the Exiles as he scored a fine first half solo try before starting the sweeping move for Lloyd Williams to dart over.

“What we have done for Smithy is simplify the game,” revealed Hammer. “Not in terms of the technical side, but what I mean by that is when you run you run hard and when you defend do it with communication.

“He has taken that on board and he has gone from strength to strength. It’s great to see.”