London Welsh return to winning ways, but Burnell is not satisfied

Croydon Guardian: Happy-ish: London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell Happy-ish: London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell

London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell was pleased to see his side make a return to winning ways in the Championship at Jersey on Saturday, but disappointed the exiles did not go on to secure a bonus point.

Welsh led 21-6 in the first half thanks to tries from Mitch Lees, Joe Ajuwa and Mike Denbee, but needed four second half penalties from the boot of Alex Davies to hold off a spirited Jersey comeback to prevail 33-26.

Victory sent Welsh back to the top of the table – two points clear of Bristol – after consecutive defeats to Bedford Blues and London Scottish had seen the exiles overhauled.

“It was all about the performance for us today and for 60 minutes we got a performance, which had been lacking over the last couple of weeks,” said Burnell.

“Importantly we got the win and we’re back to winning ways and we’re sitting at the top of the league again. But it’s not all about that, it’s about the performance, but a win certainly helps morale.

“We should have scored the fourth try, but it didn’t come. We kicked the points. But Jersey is not an easy place to come and the weather wasn’t the best, so we’re just happy with the win.

“Teams can get quite carried away with the wind. We had to play into the wind in the first half and we played with some really good intent. In the second half we just didn’t get any momentum into our game and in all fairness to Jersey they didn’t kick much of their ball, they carried. Jersey are a good side and we knew we were going to be in for a dogfight.

“It’s [the Championship] very competitive; there was only seven points in today’s game. Jersey are in the bottom half of the table but I can certainly see them improving, and the top half of the table is very much nip and tuck.

"It’s anybody’s league. For us it’s about maintaining a good performance and staying in the top four.”

The focus for Burnell and Welsh returns to the British & Irish Cup next Sunday, with the visit of Burnell’s former club Pontypridd to the Kassam Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

After defeats to London Scottish and Ponty in pool two, Welsh brought themselves back into contention with consecutive bonus point wins over Edinburgh Academical, and now sit just three points behind joint leaders, Ponty and Scottish.

“Our next two games in the B&I Cup should be quite good fun. We’ve got Pontypridd at home, an old team of mine, so I’m looking forward to that, and then we’ve got London Scottish again. They’ve beaten us twice,” added Burnell, who made 10 changes for the trip to Jersey and says he’ll continue to utilise his squad.

“We have to be realistic to the fact that 15 players are not going to get us promoted. It’s not rotation; it’s based on ability in training, which is a massive thing for us, and as you saw today there were ten changes for us.”

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