LONDON Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney was delighted with his side after they produced a fabulous performance to draw 27-27 at Bristol Bears in the Gallagher Premiership – despite playing the whole of the second half with only 14 men.

After a tight opening, Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy put his side in front with a 26th-minute penalty, only for Exiles to hit back and go into the break with a 7-3 advantage after Ben Meehan crossed the whitewash and Stephen Myler added the extras.

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However, Declan Kidney's men were hampered in the second period after losing Ollie Hoskins to a red card for a high tackle shortly before the interval.

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Nathan Hughes scored the hosts' first try before a Myler penalty put Irish back in front, but a converted Charles Piutau try fired Bristol 15-10 up.

A brilliant interception from All Black Waisake Naholo saw the wing run in a converted score from 50 metres for Exiles, only for Ed Holmes to dot down to put Bristol 20-17 in front.

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The topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued when young Tom Parton's converted try made it 24-20 to Irish, only for Harry Thacker to reply in kind as the clock ticked down.

However, with just a minute remaining, Myler held his nerve to slot a penalty and secure the draw.

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Reflecting on his side's character, Kidney said: “I was absolutely delighted with it.

“When you bring lads together, it’s the one thing that you can’t coach is attitude and I thought we showed that in bucket loads.

“I think that is the most pleasing thing by a long, long shot out. The attitude of the lads was top class and it is a pleasure to work with them.”

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He continued: “I suppose the game never ceases to surprise me, but it was probably one of the better draws I’ve been involved in.

“It is strange when you draw and when you go down to 14 men. It is obviously going to be more difficult, especially when you play a team with a style of play that Bristol has.

“At the same time, we still conceded a try when it was 14 men each, so we will need to take a look at that. It’s a 50/50, there are positives and there are things we can improve on as well, which is great for a side like us as it shows how much room we have to grow.”

London Irish visit Toulon in the European Challenge Cup this Saturday (2pm).

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