LONDON Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney believes his side’s 41-7 home mauling by Sale Sharks will be a ‘good learning curve’ as they bid to re-establish themselves in the Gallagher Premiership, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles were crushed by a rampant visiting side who controlled the game in appalling conditions to run in six tries, a far cry from Irish’s opening-day victory at Wasps six days previously.

But despite a tough afternoon, Kidney believes his side can learn lessons from the defeat.

He said: “They were really clinical and it’s a good learning curve for us. There are a lot of things we can do better and they’re the things we’ll be going through with the players (on the training ground).”

The hosts had the better of the opening five minutes, but that was as good as it got for Exiles, who fell behind to an Akker van der Merwe try at the back of a rolling maul just before the quarter-of-an-hour mark. The outstanding Rob du Preez added the extras and then a drop goal to make it 10-0.

With Sharks dominating territory, Denny Solomona blew a glorious chance to extend the lead when he dropped the ball with the line in sight, but the former England wing made amends with a brilliant try when he collected his own chip ahead to slide home.

That proved to be his last action, but his replacement and former Exile Marland Yarde had the final say of the first half, crossing in the right-hand corner to make it 20-0 at the break.

If the hosts were to get back into the game they needed to start the second period well, but it was Sale who effectively put the game to bed with Josh Beaumont’s 52nd-minute score.

Du Preez converted his own try to make it 34-7, before Irish finally gave their fans something to cheer when Ruan Botha charged down and caught an attempted Will Cliff clearance to score.

However, it was the visitors who added a further gloss to the scoreline with the best try of the day, a slick inside ball allowing Rohan Janse van Rensburg to cut a beautiful line to touch down.

With Sharks having noticeably played the conditions better, Kidney refused to blame his side’s kicking game which often offered up the ball to their opponents.

He told the Chronicle: “We lose as a team. It’s always easy to kick well when you have quick ball and a good platform in front of you. I thought Sale gave their backs a great platform, so they were able to pick their spots and play phases and rotate us round the back field. They did that very well.

“There were aspects of our game (100 per cent on their scrum and line-out) which headed up quite well under pressure. When you win not everything is perfect and when you lose not everything is a disaster. As a team we were well beaten by a good Sale team and we have to take that on the chin and learn from it.”

Meanwhile, Sharks supremo Steve Diamond believes Irish will prove competitive in the top flight despite this setback.

He reflected: “I think they do a lot of things right. They’ve got a good coaching team, last week they proved they’ve got real spirit in the team when they got their noses in front and held onto the result (a 29-26 win at Wasps).

“We played better than them with the weather, but they’ll rub themselves down. Nobody likes to lose at home, but they’ll certainly be very combative in knocking teams around.

“They’ve also got six or seven players coming, the likes of the Australian (Adam) Coleman, the scrum-half (Nick Phipps). That will make them a different proposition and I’m glad we’ve got London Irish out of the way now.”

Next up for London Irish is a trip to a Saracens side who will be missing World Cup finalists Mako and Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jamie George, Owen Farrell and Elliott Daly, as well as Welsh full-back Liam Williams on Saturday.

But Kidney is not uneretimating the talent the reigning Premiership and European champions possess, stating: “I’m not sure it’s a good time to play them, they qualified for the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals with the squad they still have. They were unlucky last week, they’re at home as they were last week so I’m sure they’ll be looking to do a job on us as the team which is just out of the Championship. Given the Sale result I’m sure they’ll be confident of doing that.”