RUGBY UNION: We are still underdogs, says London Welsh boss Burnell

Mitch Lees (centre) returns for London Welsh tonight in a back row that includes Carl Kirwan (left) and a side captained by Tom May (right)   Picture: Martin John

Mitch Lees (centre) returns for London Welsh tonight in a back row that includes Carl Kirwan (left) and a side captained by Tom May (right) Picture: Martin John

First published in Sport 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 insists there is no more pressure on his side at Bristol tonight than there was in the first leg.

The Exiles head to the Memorial Stadium (7.45) for the second leg of their Greene King IPA Championship final with a 19-point lead.

Few Welsh fans would have expected such a margin against opponents who finished top of the regular season table.

But although the odds are now in his side’s favour, Burnell believes the pressure remains on Bristol.

“They are still the favourites,” he said.

“They won the league and have got all the best players.

“We are told it is a sell-out crowd as well.

“We are still underdogs.”

Burnell added: “We are all excited and just looking forward to it now.

“We are in good shape mentally and physically.

“The players worked hard in the first leg and received the rewards that came with it.

“It’s the same principle on Wednesday night.”

With a 12,000 crowd roaring Bristol on in their final match at the Memorial Stadium, it is sure to be a passionate atmosphere.

But Burnell will be doing his best to keep his players calm in advance.

“It’s just about relaxing now,” he said. “The work starts on Wednesday at 7pm.

“Prior to that we will be relaxing.”

One big boost for Burnell is the return of Australian Mitch Lees at blindside flanker.

Lees, who will join Exeter this summer, has been out injured since the victory over Jersey on April 12.

Burnell said: “He has been one of the outstanding players in the Championship and has been well rewarded by having a contract from Exeter.

“He is looking really sharp. He was fit for the first leg, but we felt he wasn’t quite right.

“With Pete Edwards going back to Scarlets as well, a lot of these boys want to sign off their London Welsh careers on a high.”

Lees is one of three changes as Burnell maintains the rotation policy that has served him well this season.

“We have got a squad of 40 players who are pushing each other right to the max,” said Burnell.

“I don’t think there is a huge difference in ability, but they are keeping each other focused.”

Latest Sport news

Who was Oxford United's man of the match against Cambridge?

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

5:53pm Saturday 25th April 2015

Oxford Utd 2 (Roofe 31, Hylton 45+8), Cambridge Utd 0

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

5:02pm Saturday 25th April 2015

GOALS from Kemar Roofe and Danny Hylton saw Oxford United win their final home game of the season at a canter against Cambridge United.

Oxford United v Cambridge United - updates

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

1:57pm Saturday 25th April 2015

All the latest news from Oxford United's final home game of the season, against Cambridge United.

Collins eager to avenge Oxford United's 5-1 defeat by Cambridge United

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 25th April 2015

Michael Collins expects a reminder of Oxford United’s heavy defeat at Cambridge United earlier in the season will be pinned up in the changing room to act as motivation ahead of their rematch today.

Minute's silence at Bradford so poignant for Oxford United skipper Wright

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 25th April 2015

A minute's silence will be held at Oxford United before kick-off this afternoon to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City fire.

RUGBY UNION: London Welsh coach Ollie Smith aware of big threat from former club Leicester Tigers

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 25th April 2015

IT is never a good time to play Leicester Tigers, according to assistant coach Ollie Smith as London Welsh travel to Welford Road in the Aviva Premiership today (3).

RUGBY UNION: Upbeat Olly Barkley optimistic for Welford Road tester

Oxford Mail:

7:30am Saturday 25th April 2015

OLLY Barkley believes London Welsh head to Leicester Tigers today off the back of the best week of training this season.

RUGBY UNION: Chris Elder remains level-headed as London Welsh bring in trio

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Saturday 25th April 2015

CHRIS Elder says London Welsh cannot take promotion back to the Aviva Premiership for granted next season.

SWIMMING: Superb Oxford land seven golds in a stunning display

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 25th April 2015

CITY of Oxford won seven gold medals at the Ealing Short Course Open in London.

TABLE TENNIS: Forum on song with shock cup triumph

Oxford Mail:

6:20am Saturday 25th April 2015

FORUM I turned league standings on their head by beating Oxford & District Association Division 2 champions Vikings B to lift the Aubrey Hughes Handicap Shield at the Gladiators Club.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree