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 Carlisle?

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

6:14pm Saturday 28th March 2015

Oxford Utd 2 (Hoban 38, Vassell 80), Carlisle Utd 1 (Corry 9)

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

4:57pm Saturday 28th March 2015

KYLE Vassell came off the bench to score within five minutes of his debut and give Oxford United a priceless victory at the Kassam Stadium.

Oxford Utd v Carlisle Utd - updates

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

1:54pm Saturday 28th March 2015

All the news from Oxford United's crunch clash with Carlisle United at the Kassam Stadium.

Oxford United leave it late on whether O'Dowda starts against Carlisle

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

Michael Appleton will make a late call on his line-up, with a decision to be made on whether Callum O’Dowda is fit to start the crunch home clash with Carlisle United this afternoon.

Oxford United chief Ashton calls for fans to come in great numbers

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Chief executive Mark Ashton has called on supporters to ‘pack the Kassam’ for Oxford United’s next two crunch Sky Bet League Two clashes.

CRICKET: Darryl Woods extends stay with Oxfordshire Cricket Board

Oxford Mail: Darryl Woods hit 57 in vain as Oxford Downs went down to a three-wicket defeat against Twyford

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Darryl Woods is to stay on as the Oxfordshire Cricket Board’s head of youth cricket until the end of the summer.

RUGBY UNION: Exiles' head coach Rowland Phillips is focused only on Bath tester

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Rowland Phillips insists he is not thinking about becoming London Welsh’s permanent head coach and is only focused on the Aviva Premiership game at home to Bath tomorrow (2.30).

CRICKET: Oxford MCCU sunk by Alexander Mellor ton

Oxford Mail: cricket generic

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Oxford MCCU went down by 103 runs to Unicorns in a match reduced to 38 overs by rain in The Parks on Thursday.

CRICKET: Cumnor edge out champions to make indoor final

Oxford Mail: cricket generic

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire indoor champions for the past two years, were knocked out by Cumnor in a closely-fought semi-final at Abingdon School.

MOTORSPORT: Bradley Smith aiming to step it up

Oxford Mail: Bradley Smith qualified in third, only to crash out five laps from home

8:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Oxfordshire's Bradley Smith is confident of stepping up on his opening practice session for tomorrow's Qatar MotoGP when the other two free practice session take place today.

 

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