Buoyed by another good win in the rescheduled Round 17 fixture last weekend at Bracknell, Welsh head to Bournemouth in Round 21.
Welsh last met the weekend’s hosts in Round 11, November being a much more precarious time for the Exiles who had struggled to adapt in the opening rounds of the season following promotion for the 5th year on the bounce.
That game ended with a home win for Welsh by 29 to 22; the scoreline being much closer than the 70 minute scoreline would suggest as the visitors rallied in the closing 10 minutes. Tries from Jacob Butler, Morgan Churchill, Andy Black and Griff Whitson brought the bonus point win that day in the first ever league meeting between the clubs.
Welsh have turned the corner and found their feet since Round 11 and having solidified a top of mid table position. The eyes of Cai Griffiths DoR are already looking to further development in project reset, a big summer and renewed focus for the coming season in 2023/24.
However, there are further tests remaining this season and Bournemouth have themselves also hit a purple patch in recent rounds. The seasiders have 3 victories in their last 4 games and including impressive wins against Camberley and most recently Maidenhead away. This will certainly be a significant task for the travelling Exiles.
In squad news: having been a number of rounds with positive squad news and a relative injury free selection period; Round 21 has proved more challenging. Rohan Pixley took a knock last weekend and the Aussie star will miss out. Top point scorer Osian McAvoy is unavailable and having played in every other round this season, misses his first game of the term. Gareth Lewis and Jack Burnett were both injured in the last round and miss out, meaning a first cap at this level for Academy product Chay Bailey – who has made great strides this season as he graduates from the Colts Academy. Long term injuries continue as big 6’9 Ed Couzens misses his 4th consective round. Jack Anderson of course is out for the season, lost to knee reconstruction in Round 4! Big Andy Black is also unavailable this week.
Positive news though, prop star Sam Johnson returns to the front row having missed the Bracknell trip. James Downing overcomes his ankle injury to return to the second row, Elis Staines returns in the centre and Wales u20 Ben Davies returns to the back row. Long time top try scorer (now overtaken by Osian McAvoy) Sion Cowdy also returns on the wing having returned from international 7s duty with Ireland.
With McAvoy unavailable, Daf Manley returns to 10 from his more common centre position this season. With McAvoy not playing, Cowdy will have his sites on the top try scorer berth once again.
Welsh can secure a finishing spot at 6th in the league with a win in Round 21; the Exiles could catch Oxford Quins in 5th if the end of season fixtures all go their way.
Kick of will be at the later time of 3pm in Bournemouth and we look forward to seeing the usual London Welsh family travelling support with us in numbers.