Welsh enter game week 9 with the table looking much changed to what presented the Exiles faithful after the five rounds. Welsh had 7 players return to action in Round 7, and a further 3 players for Round 8. Despite the further loss of some key players as a result of Round 7, Welsh will be relieved to have finally turned great performances into points on the board!
Welsh enter Round 9 with 12 points from a possible 15 in the last 3 rounds and unbeaten in 3. However, Welsh will be aware that big spending Camberley will likely present a different prospect. Camberley sit second in the table with 8 games under their belt, losing just the one game thus far on the road at fellow top 3 side Havant (who Welsh pushed oh so close in Round 5). Camberley have though been pushed close, notably by Wimbledon at home in Round 1, and by Brighton on the road. Camberley have conceded the least points of any side in the league on the road this season, they are 6 unbeaten and boast the joint top in sides that have achieved the most try scoring bonus points (6).
Welsh met Camberley for the first time last season at senior level, with both matches proving to be classic encounters that shaped both side’s seasons. The first encounter coming away at Camberley where Welsh came away with the bonus point win, Camberley losing a man to a red card for what turned out to be a career ending challenge on Welsh number 8 Luke Crocker. In the return leg (that brought a crowd of over 1600 to Old Deer Park) Camberley reversed the fortunes with a bonus point win of their won 17-26, ending Welsh’s unbeaten record at ODP that extended back over 4 years.
Camberley returned to Level 5 rugby at the end of the 2021/22 along with London Welsh. Camberley spent 1998 to 2001 at level 3 in the RFU pyramid (their highest level in their history so far) before 5 relegations left them at one point as low as level 8 (London 4SW), 2014-15 they then dropped to Surrey 1. Three promotions in four years came next and 2017-18 season brought victory in London 2 SW, as well a prestigious victory at Twickenham in the Intermediate Cup.
In terms of London Welsh: Having seen so many players return to the squad in the last few weeks Round 9 will see a few missing: Ben West and Tommy Williams picked up knocks in Round 7 and will not be fit for Round 9. Lima Sava took an impact injury to his shoulder in Banbury and is unlikely to feature. Ed Couzens and Jacob Butler are both not available.
This match will no doubt prove another big test for the exiles as two teams in form go head to head. There will be national rail strikes all weekend and thus travel to TW9 will no doubt be impacted, we urge supporters of both sides to plan their journeys early and thoroughly. Old Deer Park will be open for business from 11am with the Druids also in action kicking off at 2.15 pm against Old Streetonians II. The 1st XV will commence battle at 2pm. Keep your eyes peeled for all of the build as the week progresses, the match day squad will be announced on Friday morning.