Henson gives Welsh's Jones reason to be cheerful
London Welsh might have slipped to defeat at the hands of Saracens on Sunday but the performance of debutant Gavin Henson left head coach Lyn Jones with something to smile about.
The 30-year-old fly-half was making his long awaited debut for his new side, having fractured his cheekbone in a pre-season clash with Scarlets.
And Henson didn’t disappoint, quickly adhering himself to the Kassam faithful as he helped himself to 13 points against the 2011 champions, as well as kickstarting a fine late try for To Arscott with a clever pass.
However, Henson was undone by his opposite number Charlie Hodgson, who scored a try and kicked a conversion and seven penalties for all of Sarries’ points in a 28-23 victory.
But despite tasting defeat Jones admitted that Henson’s bow had left him salivating.
"I thought for his [Henson’s] first game back in God knows how long, his performance was very good. He was hugely influential," Jones said.
"Gordon [Ross] has been brilliant for us all season and he really deserved a rest.
"To play as badly as we did and come away with a losing bonus point is a plus, I didn't think we were good enough in the early exchanges.
"Saracens are a quality side and they played very well and probably deserved the win, even if we did make a late rally."
Despite being the star performer Hodgson’s day got off to the worst possible start, gifting a try to London Welsh as his loose pass was hacked forward by wing Phil MacKenzie before the Canadian international dotted down.
But after kicking a penalty Hodgson then crossed himself - Saracen’s first try in four games - before trading penalties with Henson for the visitors to head into the interval 19-13 ahead.
Some more dead-eye kicking from Hodgson after the break looked to have Saracens in control only for full-back Arscott to get the hosts back in with a shout of a victory with the try of the game with five minutes remaining.
Henson showed great awreness to pick out Nick Scott on the left wing, who in turn found MacKenzie who moved forward before sending Arscott over.
Henson added the extras to get London Welsh to within two points but almost immediately Hodgson replied with his seventh penalty and the hosts had to settle for a losing bonus point despite one last desperate drive for the line right at the death.
"I don't think it was a lucky escape," said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
"For an hour or 65 minutes we were clearly the better team. We had a couple of good chances.
"But London Welsh with all their fighting qualities managed to hang in there in the last two or three minutes.
"It was down to a mixture of our poor execution and their dogged defence. There's an element of frustration among the players with how the breakdown was refereed and different areas of that.
"But we're pretty pleased overall. We played pretty well for 60 and hung in to get a good win."
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