7:30am Monday 16th December 2013
London Welsh made it back-to-back bonus point wins over Edinburgh Academicals with a comfortable victory at Raeburn Place in the British & Irish Cup.
The atrocious conditions that greeted the Exiles on their arrival in Edinburgh ensured there would be no repeat of their ten-try demolition at Old Deer Park seven days earlier.
But the five tries they did manage were enough to keep Justin Burnell’s side alive in Pool 2 thanks to London Scottish’s victory over Pontypridd at the Athletic Ground.
Keeping faith with the majority of the team that inflicted last weekend’s emphatic 73-10 scoreline, Burnell’s side had to combat the elements as much as the opposition in the first half, with Welsh given the task of playing into a fierce wind and driving rain for the opening period.
The hosts kicked off with wind and rain advantage deep to the Exiles’ goal-line, but a long series of excellent driving phases with Joe Ajuwa, Mike Denbee and Ollie Stedman, in particular to the fore, took play up to the Edinburgh ten-metre line.
This continued to be the pattern for the rest of the half, with the quality of the handling and control of forwards, and backs alike, exceptional in the awful conditions.
Peter Browne, on his welcome return after injury, stole several lineout balls before being replaced by Will Carrick-Smith just before half-time with a cut eye.
The penalty count against the home side was mounting, but Welsh had no option other than to launch quick taps against the powerful wind.
Welsh, though, would still dominate possession and territory, with their scrum on top.
Finding a way through a spirited defence was a different matter, however.
The Exiles would meet with some stiff resistance until they finally broke the deadlock.
After knock-ons had spoilt some promising attacking platforms for the Exiles, Welsh disrupted a scrum and Rob Lewis dispossessed Callum Reid and sent Stedman over.
Will Robinson added the extremely difficult conversion.
The converted score was all that separated the sides at the end of a first half played in testing conditions.
With the wind and rain now at Welsh backs, the away side would make that dominance tell in the second half.
They needed just five minutes to make their second breakthrough.
Robinson’s clever chip over the top, for James Lewis and Dante Mama to chase, led to a Welsh scrum just metres from the line.
Given their dominance in the scrum already, it was little surprise that Welsh left with a penalty try. Robinson added the extras.
Welsh didn’t have to wait too long for try No 3.
Nathan Vella, Peter Edw-ards and Ollie Frost replaced Nathan Morris, Alec Hepburn and Rob Lewis and when the home side were penalised, Stedman took a quick tap and forced his way over for his second of the game. Robinson converted.
It was the home side that then struck with a converted try by Mike Campbell, as the replacement scrum half hacked on and touched down. Fly half Iain Chisholm converted.
With the gloom descending over Raeburn Place, the Exiles finally got that elusive fourth try and it would prove the pick of their five-try haul.
Taking a leaf out of the hosts’ book, replacement Josh Watkins collected a poor clearance before the on-loan Worcester Academy player kicked ahead and won the race to touch down.
Robinson couldn’t add the extras – bringing to an end his run of 14 successful attempts at goal.
The fly half would return to form, however, as prop forward Billy Moss rounded off a comfortable win for Welsh in the final minute, after great work by James Lewis and James Tincknell had nearly set up Watkins.
London Welsh: Awcock (Chapman), Tincknell, Mama (Watkins), Lewis, Ajuwa, Robinson, Lewis (Frost), Hepburn (Edwards), Morris (Vella), Moss, Browne (Carrick-Smith), West, Pienaar (capt), Denbee (Thorpe), Stedman.
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