NICK Kennedy admits London Irish must learn to start games better following their 29-17 defeat at Newcastle Falcons.

Exiles crashed to their fourth defeat in five Aviva Premiership fixtures after Friday night's loss in the north east.

And one again Kennedy’s men paid the price for a sloppy start which saw Falcons race into a 24-3 lead at the interval.

The hosts stretched their advantage to 29-3 before Irish mounted a strong comeback.

Exiles even went close to grabbing a losing bonus point when Saia Fainga’a’s late try was chalked off by the TMO for a forward pass.

But it was too little, too late from Irish who host Leicester Tigers at Madejski Stadium this Saturday (3pm ko).

Director of rugby Kennedy said: “I was pleased with our effort in the second half and we looked after the ball a lot better which was pleasing.

“But for the fourth week in a row we gave ourselves a mountain to climb going into the break.

“You have to give Newcastle a lot of credit for the way that they are playing and Dave Walder, who I know well, has got their attack functioning really well.

“We attacked well, but we need to be more clinical in the final third. As coaches we’re a positive group and we’ll take the positives from the second half into the Leicester game.”

Reading Chronicle:

London Irish director of rugby, Nick Kennedy.

There was little sign of what lay ahead when Irish started on the front foot.

A sustained period of pressure on the Newcastle try line ended with Tommy Bell slotting a penalty for a 3-0 lead.

Falcons regrouped and levelled on 14 minutes from a Sonatane Takulua three-pointer following an infringement at the breakdown.

But Irish were more than holding their own at that stage with some barnstorming carries from Ofisa Treviranus and David Paice troubling the home team’s defence.

However, Exiles failed to turn that pressure into points and Newcastle were quick to make them pay.

The hosts went 10-3 in front when Argentinian centre Juan Pablo Socino collected a Craig Willis incisive offload and raced in under the post, with Takulua landing the conversion.

And before Irish could recover Vereniki Goneva crossed for the first of his two tries for the evening one minute later, with Takulua adding the extras for a 17-3 lead.

Goneva’s second came around the half-hour mark after the TMO had riled he had sufficiently grounded the ball over the line. Takulua’s unerring boot extended the Falcons lead to 24-3 at the interval.

Irish started the second half in positive fashion as they had the first, with Alex Lewington almost sprinting the length of the pitch before being hauled down by Goneva just short of the line.

To add to their frustrations, Newcastle immediately hit back and a powerful driving lineout ended with skipper Will Welch going over to seal the four-try bonus point.

Exiles, to their credit, finished strongly and clawed their way back on 67 minutes when Conor Gilsenan’s burst of pace took him clear and under the posts after a superb pass from Lewington.

And Newcastle’s nerves were jangling when replacement wing Tom Fowlie crossed in the corner for Irish’s second try just two minutes later following a swift backline move involving Aseli Tikoirotuma and James Marshall. Bell landed a touchline conversion to leave the visitors trailing 29-17.

But despite dominating the closing stages, Irish hopes of snatching a losing bonus-point were dashed when Saia Fainga’a late effort was scrubbed out by the TMO.

Newcastle: Tait,Van der Merwe, Harris, JP Socino (Matavesi 70), Goneva, Willis (Hodgson 60), Takulua (Stuart 64), Vickers (Mavinga 58), S.Socino (Lawson 41), Welsh (Davison 62), Green, Witty (Robinson 51), Wilson, Welch (c), Latu (Hogg 58).

London Irish: Bell, Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Williams (Tonks 41), Nalaga (Fowlie 57), Marshall, Steele (Meehan 67), Franks (Elrington 31, 67), Paice (c) (Fainga’a 61), Du Plessis (Hoskins 41), Van der Merwe, De Chaves (Paulo 55), McNally, Cowan, Treviranus (Gilsenan 41).

Attendance: 7,650.