Jones: Welsh must rise to the challenge

First published in London Welsh by

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has urged his players to rise to the challenge when the Exiles travel to Championship favourites Bristol on Sunday.

Both sides opened their play-off campaigns with bonus-points wins last weekend, but while Welsh needed a three try blitz in nine minute second half minutes to overcome Nottingham, Bristol laid down a marker at Castle Park with their 65-3 victory against Doncaster.

“We know we’ve got our work cut out, but the bigger the challenge the bigger the player,” said Jones.

“It’s going to be an extremely tough game. They’re the leading side at the moment in the league, so it’s a challenge for our players to front up to.

“It’s no fluke that they finished top of the league. They’re a very good side, they’re well organised, they’re well coached and they’ve signed players consistently throughout the season and they’ve increased the ability of their squad.”

Sunday will be the third meeting between the two sides this season with the Exiles having pushed Bristol as close as anyone during the regular season, although they still finished 14 points adrift in the table.

Welsh came within a last-gasp Jack Tovey try of beating Bristol in an eight try thriller at the Memorial Stadium in front of the Live Sky Sports cameras, only to go down 35-33.

But the Exiles turned the tables at Old Deer Park when tries from Saul Nelson and Hudson Tonga’uia helped secure a 23-17 win.

Welsh head to the Memorial Stadium on the back of Saturday’s 32-21 win over Nottingham at Old Deer Park.

The home side led 13-8 at the break, despite the Green and Whites dominating the opening 20 minutes, and had to overcome the second half sinbinnings of Gordon Ross and Alex Davies, before securing the win and the bonus point with three tries in the space of nine minutes.

James Lewis crossed for his second of the game, while there were debut tries for Nick Scott and Adam Brown.

“In the play-offs you’ve got to win your home games - it’s not important, it’s critical,” said Jones.

“We didn’t play great; there was a 20 minute period in the second half when we had two yellow cards and Nottingham were camped in our 22. We had several penalties against us but they came away with only six points.

“I think that was the difference – we took our opportunities when they arose.”

The yellow cards of Ross and Davies overlapped to leave the Exiles down to just 13-men for a brief period, and Jones was delighted with the character his side showed during that spell, as well as throughout the game.

“The boys stuck in and dug in during tough periods and fronted up. We had some awful line breaks against us in the first half, but we tightened up and the boys responded well,” he added.

“I was delighted with some individual performances but there’s more to come. We can improve on that again.

“The players were disappointed in the changing room afterwards, they were a bit flat. Pleased with the win and the bonus point, but they also realise that there’s better to come from us.”

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