CARL Kirwan says London Welsh’s defeat at Bristol has made them even hungrier to win promotion.

Kirwan, who captains Welsh from blindside flanker against Nottingham at Old Deer Park today, was in the side beaten 25-21 at the Memorial Ground last week.

That result ensured Bristol will finish top of the table and extended their league winning streak to 12 matches.

For many observers it made the west country side firm favourites to reach the Premiership.

But Kirwan said: “I think the hunger within the squad has been lifted again.

“People want a play-off place and to be involved.

“The competition in the squad has risen another level.

“It was disappointing to lose, but we believe we could go back down there and win in the play-offs.

“If people now want to label us underdogs for the play-offs, that’s fine, but we will come out fighting.”

Keeping positive, Kirwan added that Welsh had still ‘won’ on aggregate, having beaten Bristol 22-7 at the Kassam Stadium.

He added: “We had a goal of trying to stop them scoring.

“At half-time, losing 5-0 wasn’t the end of the world, but then a few quick tries from our individual errors let us down.

“We believe we can find weaknesses in them and up our game as well.”

Those second-half tries hurt the Exiles, who have the best defensive record in the league.

“The boys love defence and I pride myself on it,” said Kirwan.

“It’s always an intense day when we do our defence training on Tuesdays.

“It is the biggest and hardest day we do all week.”

As for today’s match, Kirwan is not taking Nottingham lightly.

“Nottingham are a good team,” he said. “There are no poor Championships sides, so it is always going to be a battle.

“They will want to move us around.”

Kirwan has been a standout player since joining Welsh last summer, but knows his biggest challenge is yet to come.

“The set-up around the place is really good,” he said.

“I have really enjoyed being here. The test comes now.

“They are exciting times and we just need to make the play-offs our own.”