FLY-HALF Ian Keatley believes London Irish are 'developing nicely' as they close in on a return to the Gallagher Premiership.

The Irish international was again in fine form as Exiles produced one of their best performances of the season in blitzing hosts Cornish Pirates 35-7 on Saturday, leaving them eight points clear at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship with three games remaining.

Their next two are against the bottom two sides – Hartpury RFC and Richmond – and victories in both would see Declan Kidney's men back in the top flight.

And Keatley said: "We're developing nicely and building for the next couple of games.

"We know the next two or three games are important to get back to where we want to be."

Commenting on the Pirates victory, he revealed: "Sometimes you can tell from the warm-up how you're going to perform. Our warm-up was buzzing and I thought we brought that into the match.

"We keep saying it's not going to be perfect, but we keep trying to get ourselves into the battles and we did that. I thought the forwards were phenomenal.

"I'm really happy in the way we scored our tries and the options we took."

The former Munster star also admitted he was not surprised by the performance, while praising the Exiles fans.

He concluded: "The way we trained the week before is a benchmark for every week. We talked about it all week and we beat each other up in training and said 'why don't we go out and do that to the opposition', and we did that.

"I thought our fans almost outnumbered them and that's great because it's what you play for.

"If there's no-one around you're just playing in a back field, so it's great our supporters came out and got behind us. Thankfully we put in a performance for them."

Returning centre Fergus Mulchrone added: "It was an unbelievable performance from the boys, we went for the full 80 minutes.

"The boys came down with real intent to play, and I think we really put them to the sword."