10:00am Saturday 21st September 2013
By Ed Mezzetti
LONDON Welsh head coach Justin Burnell says his players must raise their game several notches if they are to compete at Nottingham tomorrow.
The Exiles visit Meadow Lane for the Sky Sports-televised clash at 3.15pm, having beaten Bedford Blues 23-14 in their opener.
Burnell admitted his side had made too many mistakes in that encounter and knows they must do better against Nottingham, who finished second in last season’s Champiopnship table.
“First and foremost we wanted to start out with a win last week,” said Burnell.
“We managed to score three tries, but outside of that, I felt our game management and skill levels let us down and that’s taking nothing away from Bedford.
“Nottingham proved last year that they are a side that can score a lot of tries.
“We are going to have to work as hard as we did against Bedford and cut out the errors. We need to raise our game.”
Burnell has a lot of time for Nottingham’s experienced head coach Martin Haag and is relishing another tough test against opponents, who beat Leeds 24-16 last time out.
“Martin Haag has been around a long time,” he said. “He is a very good coach.
“I have had a good look at Nottingham. They played London Irish in pre-season and had a very good game against Leeds last week.
“They are a big, aggressive side with a lot of pace out wide.”
The opening weekend of Greene King IPA Championship action saw all 12 teams battle it out at neutral venues in three double-headers.
Cornish Pirates stole the headlines by edging out title favourites Bristol 23-12 at Exeter.
As a newcomer to English rugby, Welshman Burnell was a keen observer and reckons the division could be closer than ever.
“What the first weekend did was confirm my thoughts. It is a very competitive league,” he said.
“I thought the Pirates were outstanding on Sunday in beating Bristol as were Plymouth in the second half against Jersey.
“The attitude of all the teams in this league is that nobody is going to roll over.
“Everybody is going to fight for those extra few inches.
“I personally believe the team with the best strength in depth is going to be up there at the end of the season.
“If I think that I will get to Christmas with the same 15 players, it is not going to happen.
“I anticipate there will be changes every week because there’s no way we’re going to get through 22 more league games and be in good shape, if we’re very fortunate to be in the top four, without utilising our squad.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group