5:09pm Sunday 9th February 2014
By Ed Mezzetti
London Welsh 47
(tries Stegmann 2, Trevett, Thorpe, Tideswell, P Browne, Awcock; cons Robinson 6)
Rotherham Titans 16
(try Gadd; con Socino; pens Socino 3)
London Welsh roared back to the top of the table with their best display of the season.
The Exiles ran in seven tries during a pulsating display at the Kassam Stadium to dethrone Rotherham Titans, who had taken over top spot last week.
Having lost 36-15 at Plymouth Albion last time out, this was exactly the riposte head coach Justin Burnell would have wanted.
Welsh played with ambition and purpose throughout, but disappointingly had just 1,061 fans, including a vocal Rotherham contingent, to watch them.
The Exiles could not have got off to a better start.
Having controlled possession in the opening minutes, the outstanding fly half Will Robinson’s well-judged kick forced Rotherham to concede a line-out.
The Welsh forwards combined with power and technique before loosehead prop Nathan Trevett burrowed over from close range, Robinson converting.
Titans had scarcely kicked off before they conceded again.
This time, some great off-loading amongst the pack gave No 8 Richard Thorpe an easy run in for try No 2 on eight minutes.
Rotherham hit back immediately when captain Juan Pablo Socino slotted a penalty immediately after the restart.
Socino was on target again after 13 minutes to make it 14-6 as a surprisingly open clash ensued.
Just when you thought Rotherham were getting a grip, Welsh produced a gem of a try.
Some great hands took the ball wide on the left where tighthead prop James Tideswell produced a great ‘show and go’ to motor in for try No 3.
Socino slotted a third penalty, but the Exiles were attacking at will.
And they scored a deserved bonus-point try on 35 minutes when right wing Seb Stegmann finished a flowing move for Robinson to convert from out wide.
Socino dragged a fourth penalty attempt wide on the stroke of half-time, but Welsh had a great platform to build on.
Home fans did not have long to wait for another try as Stegmann raced on to scrum half Rob Lewis clever chip kick to score in the corner, Robinson converting for 33-9.
The Exiles were rampant and forced a sixth try via lock Pete Browne in the same corner, with Robinson’s conversion making it 40-9.
With both sides making a series of changes, the intensity slipped a little.
But Welsh were not quiet for long as their impressive full back Seb Jewell’s mazy run set up try No 7 for left wing Alan Awcock, who popped up on the right flank. Robinson converted.
Rotherham threatened a try of their own from replacement Gary Law’s break, but Socino dropped his scoring pass.
Titans were finally rewarded for their commitment when replacement prop Marshall Gadd forced his way over after Welsh flanker Mitch Lees had been sin-binned.
Socino converted for 47-16 and his side kept running until the end.
But this was very much the Exiles’ day and, they hope, sent out a warning to the rest of the Championship.
London Welsh: Jewell, Stegmann (Scott 63), May (capt), Parker, Awcock, Robinson, R Lewis (Davies 56), Trevett (Hepburn 48), Vella (Morris 55), Tideswell (Griffiths 66), West (Nimmo 68), P Browne, Lees, Kirwan (Pienaar 62), Thorpe.
Rotherham: Scanlon, Broadley, Roberts, Socino (capt), Keating, Murphy (Law 63), White (Mulchrone 41), Hislop, Sowrey (Cruse 46), Quigley (Tampin 56), Thomas (Gadd 57), Sanderson (Thomas-Brown 51), Rieder, Birch, To’oala (Williamson 41).
Referee: S Lee (RFU).
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