Well, the throws of winter are truly here and yes it is cold! Very cold!
Game Week 14 rolls into town bringing with it sub zero temperatures, snow and frozen pitches. The decision was made early this week that Old Deer Park would be unplayable and to the rescue came Chiswick and their 3G RFU pitch! Mountains have been moved and pur clash against the league leaders bolders on as Welsh look to turn the half time lead that they had in the reverse fixture into a Win.
It would no doubt be a shock to the league if the Exiles snatched this one, it would be fair to say that Welsh form this season has been erratic. Welsh sit 6th after 13 rounds with 5 wins, a draw and 7 losses – 3 more losses than the entire 4 previous seasons combined!
In contrast the Dons sit flush at the top of the league on 60 points, having only lost one game on the opening weekend of the season away to fellow league contenders Camberley. Dons have scored the highest points at home and away in the league, have the longest unbeaten record (12 games) and the leagues top try scorers (Oliver Kitto).
The Dons finished 7th in this league last season having been relegated from National 2 back in the 17/18 season. National 2 (level 4) is the highest that the club has reached in the RFU league structure, having been founded way back in 1865 (exactly 20 years before London Welsh).
In team news Welsh are bolstered by the double return of Dafydd Manley who has seen out his 4 match suspension, and Irish 7s International & top try scorer Sion Cowdy (who returns from international duty). Elis Staines makes the starting line up at 12 to face the club that he briefly joined from Welsh last season (before returning to Welsh mid season). The return of Manley to 10 sees top points scorer Osian McAvoy revert to the 15 slot to complete a potent back 3 of McAvoy, Cowdy and Jacob Butler.
In the pack: Club Captain James Buncle returns at loose head, the Norwegian international dropped to the bench in Round 13. In comes Cardiff Met man Tom Thorpe to the openside flank as experienced Tommy Williams continues at 8. Rhys Howells returns to the centre for his first game since round 10.
Welsh selection absentees remain high: Tololima Savanaea (broken color bone), Jack Anderson (dislocated knee), Ewan Gully (leg), Myles Keane (HIA), Ben Davies (knee) and Griff Whitson (Knee).
Welsh can close the gap on 5th with a win but cannot move up the league in Round 14. Wimbledon would lose the league lead with a loss and a Camberley win.
The kick off time is shifted to 3pm as the floodlights at Chiwicks 3G come to the sun’s aid.
Please plan your travel thoroughly and early- the closest station is Barnes Bridge and trains are running to that location. Chiswick RFC can be found HERE https://chiswickrugby.co.uk/find-us/
We look forward to see the usual London Welsh Red army out in full force.