JUSTIN Burnell refused to get carried away with London Welsh’s pulsating victory over Bristol last night.
The Exiles won their Greene King IPA Championship play-off final first leg 27-8 at the Kassam Stadium to seemingly take control of the tie.
Tries from Nathan Trevett, Nick Scott and Carl Kirwan helped Welsh secure a 19-point lead in front of 5,021 fans – their biggest crowd of the season.
But head coach Burnell was keen to keep his side’s feet on the ground, saying: “We have still got a long way to go, there is still another leg to play.
“We know how good Bristol are, they are capable of scoring points.
“I guess it’s now London Welsh’s defence against Bristol’s point scoring.
“We are happy with the three tries and the 19-point lead, we are over the moon with that. It’s all to play for.”
Burnell would not say whether he felt it was enough of an advantage ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg, but simply stated: “I would rather be 19 points up than 19 points down.”
Bristol had captain Ryan Jones stretchered off with an ankle injury and conceded numerous penalties.
Burnell added: “I think the difference with the 19 points was the calibre of the refereeing.
“Wayne Barnes just proved why he is one of the best referees in the world.
“He highlighted the fact, which is a frustration with a lot of the coaches in the Championship era, that Bristol get away with certain aspects of play.
“I thought he was outstanding. He refereed the game right to the line and allowed them not to get away with what they have done all year.”
Bristol head coach Sean Holley said his side were “outplayed and outcoached”.
He said: “They were great tonight and we couldn’t find a way through.
“We have got to pick ourselves up. Our set-pieces need to be better and we were turning over the ball too much.”
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