Toby Booth: 'We have to cut out the turnovers'By Alan Manicom
December 03, 2010
Toby Booth has warned his London Irish players that they will need to improve their ball security if they are to maintain their impressive home record in the Aviva Premiership.
Exiles have won all four of their league games at Madejski Stadium this season and tomorrow’s visitors Leicester Tigers have yet to win away.
But Booth accepts his team will have to be at their best against the defending champions if they are to halt a run of four straight defeats in all competitions.
A total of 68 points were conceded in their last two games at local rivals Wasps and league leaders Northampton Saints.
And the London Irish boss said: “We had 20 turnovers last week and you can’t win a game against a side as good as Northampton with 20 turnovers. So ultimately we have to look after the ball better.
“Two of the tries that Wasps scored came from turnovers. So the issue is not purely a defensive one. It is about our ball security. We have worked all week on looking after the ball.”
Exiles have been making use of the sandpit at their Sunbury training ground to work on ball retention.
Booth said: “Sand doesn’t freeze like soil does. So we have been in the sandpit and done a few bits and pieces to make sure we respect the ball because you cannot win a game without it.”
The 23 points that Irish scored last Friday was the highest tally obtained by any of the nine English, Welsh and French teams to have visited Franklin’s Gardens this season.
But Irish were guilty of conceding possession after taking it into contact.
And Booth said: “If you control the tackle area, you control the game. Northampton did that more effectively than we did last week.”
Booth is delighted that Dave Pearson will be refereeing tomorrow’s match, adding: “He is an international referee and is very hot on the contact area – with regards to getting the tackler out and (spotting) people in space where they shouldn’t be. The epidemic that is coming through at the moment is tacklers getting up and standing between the space between you and the ball, which actually is obstruction, but they are getting away with it.
“It is very hard for referees to see. But Dave is a good experienced ref and that will enable him to see it.”
Meanwhile, flanker Jamie Gibson and winger Adam Thompstone returned to training this week for the first time since breaking their legs.
Thompstone, who suffered a double fracture just over a year ago, won’t be considered for the first team until the new year, but Gibson, who broke his leg in pre-season, could be involved in an A team game later this month.
He will not, however, feature in the Varsity game for Oxford University at Twickenham next Thursday.