The exiles have two bonus point wins on home turf from their last two wins, with big wins against both Sutton & Epsom and Banbury, in Round 16 & 18. However, memories will be very fresh of the Round 10 reverse fixture: this was an edgy affair on the coast where neither side really coated themselves in any glory, the home side taking the 4 point win with a 17-7 score line (Elis Staines getting the Welsh score).
London Welsh enter Round 20 sitting 8th in the league table, having been knocked off 7th spot by Bracknell in Round 19. Brighton sit further back in 9th with a record of just 4 wins and 1 draw with 12 losses. Brighton have made good sport though this season in picking up try scoring and losing bonus points, this has kept them comfortably away from the relegation zone all season so far. The Blues have picked up the most losing bonus points in the league this season (6) and are the 5th best side in terms of points conceded on the road; Brighton also have a game in hand over most of the league.
Welsh have 7 wins and 1 draw from their 18 matches thus far, and top scorer Osian McAvoy took his tally this season to 102 last weekend and 236 for his Welsh career as a whole.
Brighton boast a 150 year history, but over that period have never played London Welsh in league rugby – despite the age of both clubs, until this season. Welsh did make a trip to Brighton in pre season last season for a friendly match that the Exiles won (the game being marked by the memorable site of the posts collapsing before kick off!). Level 5 is the highest that the Blues have reached in the English pyramid system.
In team news: Welsh will welcome the return of Aussie backrower Rohan Pixley who missed Round 19. Hywel Williams and Jack Burnet should also return having missed out last time around with slight niggles. We may also see a return for James Downing in the second row as he recovers from his injury sustained in the warm up pre match in round 18. Tim Ros, Charlie Bramble, Gareth Lewis and Captain fantastic James Buncle also all return. The side will though miss big 6’9 Ed Couzens who continues to suffer from the knee injury sustained in training 2 weeks ago. There will be a late fitness test for Ben Bodinham who came off against Camberley last weekend. In a big plus, Second Row Ben Watts has completed 2 matches for the Druids in his recovery from long term injury and is in line to make his return to the 1st XV and a first appearance of the season.
Things are getting interesting for Welsh in the Try and points scorers stakes: Sion Cowdy still leads the way for try scoring with 8 in 12 games. Osian McAvoy is in close pursuit on 7 and closely followed by Jacob Butler on 5. However, also on 5 now is Tom Hunt (in 4 games). Tom was last seasons top try scorer and spent the first half of the season in National 2 with Dorking RFC. Tom chose to return in January and in his for games thus far has notched up 5 tries already – what would the odds be on Tom finishing top of pops again this season. McAvoy is pushing further ahead on total points scored with 104 (a 71% success rate), behind him is Dafydd Manley on 76.
The scene is set for a mighty clash that we be attended by many of the Exiles former stars, this weekend being the annual former players day and lunch. The World Famous London Welsh RFC Club Choir will be with us to entertain at the Pre Match lunch and throughout the day. All bars will be open from 11am, happy hour starts at 6pm and there will be live music from 7pm.
The pre match lunch commences at 12 midday and you can book your places HERE: https://www.londonwelshrfc.com/events-list/
We look forward to having you with us to enjoy another wonderful day at London Welsh!