RUGBY UNION: London Welsh raring to go ahead of play-off second leg

London Welsh at their pre-match press conference at the Kassam Stadium yesterday ahead of their Greene King IPA Championship play-off semi-final. From left: Nathan Trevett, Matt Corker, head coach Justin Burnell, Alan Awcock and Tom May

London Welsh at their pre-match press conference at the Kassam Stadium yesterday ahead of their Greene King IPA Championship play-off semi-final. From left: Nathan Trevett, Matt Corker, head coach Justin Burnell, Alan Awcock and Tom May

First published in Sport
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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell is backing his side’s battling qualities to see them into the play-off final on Sunday.

The Exiles trail Leeds Carnegie by seven points after a a 38-31 first leg defeat in their Greene King IPA Championship semi-final at Headingley.

But Burnell said every time Welsh have lost this season they have come back fighting and will do so again at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium.

“The biggest thing that has come out of this year is we seem to thrive and play better under pressure,” he said.

“They are a resilient bunch of players. They never roll over and just get back into a good mindset.

“Pressure isn’t something that we have really discussed.

“We work on the basis of no excuses and as long as you give 100 percent, you can’t do much more than that.”

Burnell’s view was echoed by captain Tom May, who said: “When we have gone down, this team really fights and we have pulled together.

“We have a good bunch of lads.

“Seven points doesn’t really bother me as a target. Even if they score first, it doesn’t.

“We’ll start the game as if it’s 0-0 and play as well as we can. That’s all we can do.”

Welsh beat Leeds 31-24 and 19-10 in their regular season clashes and Burnell said there was no reason why they could not do that again.

“None whatsoever.” he said. “Back at home, we have got a nice little consistency going.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a bigger crowd and it’s all to play for.

“It’s a converted try, which is nothing. It is exciting times for us.”

Welsh will name their side today, with Burnell set to maintain his rotation policy.

“We never have the same XV going on the park and it won’t be the same on Sunday,” he said.

“We like consistency and we like rewarding players who train hard in the week.

“If you went down that route of playing the same old XV, I think the environment would change.

“So for us it is a bit of a no brainer. Training has gone really well and people have really put their hands up in respect of this weekend’s game.”

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