London Welsh 12

(tries R Lewis, Britton; con Roberts)

Lyon 17

(tries Regard, Munro, Fitzpatrick; con Munro)

London Welsh were left wondering what might have been as they came the closest they have all season to a victory against Lyon, but a late fightback proved too little too late, writes SIMON WILLIAMS.

The European Challenge Cup Pool 4 fixture was a ‘dead rubber’, with Welsh having lost all five previous games and the visitors knowing that even if they won, it would be not enough to qualify for the next stage.

And that showed in lifeless periods at Oxford's Kassam Stadium.

Exiles’ head coach Justin Burnell had named an unchanged starting XV from the side – mostly fringe players – who put in a spirited display against Bordeaux the previous week.

However, they were soon on the back foot, conceding the first score in the eighth minute.

A punt forward to the home side’s try line was not collected by Welsh defenders and it bounced kindly for Lyon winger Thibaut Regard, who caught the ball and touched down.

Fly half Lachie Munro missed the conversion, but made amends with their second try four minutes later.

With the play in the Welsh 22, the Exiles lost the ball in a turnover.

No-one spotted Munro had taken a position wide on the left, and he was able to take a long pass and run in from 20 yards unopposed.

Although Munro again missed the conversion, Welsh already had an uphill struggle.

It was not until the game was more than half-an-hour old that Welsh were able to turn the screw on Lyon.

After putting a penalty into touch deep in Lyon’s territory, Welsh had five minutes of pressure.

They twice turned down penalty kicks at goal, opting for line-outs instead in a vain attempt to score a try, when it was surely important that they should get some points on the board before half-time.

Welsh came out after the interval fired up, but were unable to put together a period of pressure.

The next score was likely to prove crucial – and it went to Lyon.

Poor defence left Lyon hooker Damien Fitzpatrick with the room to score a try under the posts, converted by Munro.

Leading 17-0, they took the foot of the gas, but after a quiet spell, the game burst into life.

An exquisite pass between his legs by Welsh prop Eddie Aholelei opened up space on the left and scrum half Rob Lewis went over for their first points. Tristan Roberts added the conversion.

Welsh’s tails were up and after a good break by Aholelei, they were able to recycle the ball and replacement hooker Koree Britton got over the tryline in the right corner.

Although Roberts missed the conversion, with three minutes to go and at 17-12, Welsh still had a chance of getting their first win in 21 games this season.

However, they were unable to produce another bit of magic to pull off what would have been an amazing comeback.

London Welsh: Elder (Kear 49), Stegmann (Awcock 61), J Lewis, Barkley, Crane, Roberts, R Lewis (Rowley 73), Aholelei, Morris (Britton HT), Cooper (Gilding 65), Schofield, Corker, McCaffrey (McNally 55), Thorpe (D Browne 43), Pienaar. Unused rep: Reeves.

Lyon: Loursac (Porical 33, then Bau 43), Regard, Bonnefond, Estebanez, Tison, Munro, Loree, Mavinga (Colliat 61), Fitzpatrick (Balan 61), Roux (Pungea 61), De Marco (Tuinea HT), Njewel, Cerqueira, Nzi (Derrien 64), Matadigo (Viljoen).

Attendance: 3,221.