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By dragons' den
August 8 2014

So the new season is nearly upon us, and we kick off our first pre-season friendly tomorrow at Henley. It may not be the first team that everyone expects but a great chance for those in the lineup to shine. lets hope for a great openong day and a welcome to match that ofg last year.

London Welsh will give debuts to a host of the Club’s summer signings against Henley Hawks at Dry Leas on Saturday (KO 3pm), as the Exiles begin the countdown to the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership season.

Head coach Justin Burnell has named a 28-man squad, and two starting line ups, for the game with Henley - the first of three pre-season fixtures.

New additions Nic Reynolds, Chris Elder, Tristan Roberts Paul Rowley, Ricky Reeves, Ben Cooper, James Down, Darren Waters, Shane Cahill, Jimmy Litchfield, Jesse Liston and Cameron Goodhue are all set to make their first appearance for London Welsh.

“We’re looking forward to going to Henley. We had a fantastic welcome there last season and it really put us in good stead for the season,” said Burnell.

“Henley are a fantastic Oxford club who unfortunately went down a league last year but they’ve got some good youngsters and it’s a great way to start off.

“We’re going to Dry Leas with the mind-set of giving some of our new faces an opportunity.

“There’s nothing better than gauging where you’re at in a live environment. A lot came out of the game last year - they put us under a lot of pressure.

“We’re working very hard on our continuity skills and speed of ball, so I want to see where we’re at. We’ve stepped up the intensity in training and I want to make sure we can incorporate that intensity alongside the skill aspect. That’s going to be a big thing for us on Saturday.”

This week saw the Exiles complete week six of their pre-season programme and Burnell is pleased with the way things have been progressing.

“It’s been a quick turnaround [since winning the Championship] but the boys have reacted really well, which is the most important thing,” he said.

“Pre-season has been good; a lot of smiling faces. The week off came at exactly the right time. A lot of good work had been put in by the conditioners and the rugby coaches and this week was our first week back and the intensity has definitely gone up a level. We’ve introduced a lot more contact.

“We’ve just got to keep building to the important game against Exeter Chiefs on September 7 at the Kassam Stadium.”

In the corresponding fixture 12 months ago, last season’s Championship winners came away from Henley with a 45-5 win thanks to tries from Mitch Lees (2), Mike Denbee, Tom May, Joe Ajuwa, Rhys Crane and Ollie Stedman.

Following Saturday’s game at Dry Leas, Welsh continue their build up to the new Aviva Premiership season against Wasps on August 17 at Adams Park, before making the trip to Sardis Road on August 23 to take on Pontypridd.

“We’ve got Wasps at Adams Park - that’s going to go up another level – and then you’re going down to Pontypridd and you know what you’re going to get. It’s going to be a massive crowd and quite a lot of hostility on the field, but as soon as you finish you’re the best of friends,” said Burnell.

“The other thing is it’s three games on the road. Sometimes you can take things for granted when you play all your pre-season games at home. You get carried away. You’ve got to get used to winning on the road and that was a big thing we spoke about at the end of last season.

“In the second leg of the final we didn’t want to go to Bristol and sit on the aggregate – we had to go there to win. My mind-set is it’s three away games and three tough games.”

London Welsh Team v Henley Hawks

1st half: 15. Chris Elder, 14, Rhys Crane, 13. Nic Reynolds, 12. James Tincknell, 11.  Elliot Kear, 10. Tristan Roberts, 9. Paul Rowley, 1. Ricky Reeves, 2. Nathan Vella, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Ben West, 5. James Down, 6. Daniel Browne, 7. Darren Waters, 8. Ben Pienaar (C).

2nd half: 15. Elliot Kear, 14. Adam Field, 13. James Lewis (C), 12. James Tincknell, 11. Jamal Chisholm, 10. Will Robinson, 9. Ed Hoadley, 1. Shane Cahill, 2. Matthew Dobson, 3. Ian Williams/Jimmy Litchfield, 4. Josh McNally, 5. James Down, 6. Jesse Liston, 7, Ed Taylor, 8. Cameron Goodhue.

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...and we're off
The Dragons' Den (IP Logged)
08/08/2014 19:04
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