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 Rugby 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 at Tranmere?

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

5:57pm Saturday 18th April 2015

Tranmere Rovers 0, Oxford Utd 3 (Roofe 51 & 68, Rose 52)

Oxford Mail:

4:57pm Saturday 18th April 2015

KEMAR Roofe scored twice as Oxford United chalked up their biggest away win of the season to increase rock bottom Tranmere Rovers' relegation fears.

Updates - Tranmere Rovers v Oxford Utd

Oxford Mail: oxford united logo 1200pix

1:59pm Saturday 18th April 2015

All the news from Oxford United's trip to struggling Tranmere Rovers in Sky Bet League Two.

Oxford United aim to cash in on Tranmere's woe

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 18th April 2015

Oxford United will attempt to make the most of all the pressure being on opponents Tranmere Rovers today as they look for a first win in four games.

MOTORSPORT: Felipe Massa's happy to silence critics with a sound start

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Felipe Massa believes he has finally silenced his critics following his solid start to the new Formula 1 season.

MOTORSPORT: Jason Plato bids to bounce back

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Oxford's Jason Plato believes he can bounce back from a frustrating start to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in round two at Donington Park tomorrow.

MOTORSPORT: Bradley Smith eyes strong finish

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

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Bradley Smith is confident of another good result when he lines up in the Argentina MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo track tomorrow.

SNOOKER: Abingdon Conservative Club's crown on countback

Oxford Mail: cue and cue ball for images of snooker and billards for sport

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Abingdon Conservative Club A won the Gentworks Oxford & District League Premier Division title in dramatic fashion.

BILLIARDS: Fieldside in title boost

Oxford Mail: cue and cue ball for images of snooker and billards for sport

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Fieldside strengthened their Division 1 title hopes with a 2-1 win at second-placed New Club in the Gentworks Oxford & District League.

ANGLING: Carp haul sees Brian Hutchings open up with victory

8:00am Saturday 18th April 2015

Littlemore Angling Society’s Brian Hutchings started off the new season where he left off – with a win.

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