Welsh spirits still high – Burnell

Date published: October 10 2014

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London Welsh are better off forgetting defeat last time out at Harlequins as they continue to search for a first win of the season.

London Welsh are better off forgetting defeat last time out at Harlequins as they continue to search for a first win of the season.

That was the word from the Exiles’ director of rugby Justin Burnell ahead of Saturday’s clash with fellow basement dwellers Newcastle Falcons.

“The lads are training well, no-one is jibbing, there are no excuses,” said Burnell.

The newly-promoted outfit have made an unenviable start to the campaign, losing each of their opening five clashes and conceding 249 points in the process.

Burnell admits a 52-0 defeat at Harlequins last weekend – the same scoreline as their opening-weekend defeat by Exeter Chiefs – was a tough blow to their progress.

However, it is that progress that keeps the Exiles boss hopeful that a positive result is just around the corner.

Four tries at in-form Bath in Round two were followed by close encounters with Sale Sharks and Gloucester, only for Welsh to fall away in the final 20 minutes of each clash.

And while he admits defeat at The Stoop was a backwards step, Burnell expects the Welsh Exiles to break their top-flight duck soon enough.

“The week before with Gloucester I felt we were in with a sniff,” he added.

“We scored our four tries down in Bath, which not a lot of teams have done, and Sale would agree we were in it as well.

“But just too many errors cost us against Quins, and when you are playing players like Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Marland Yarde and Mike Brown you are going to be in trouble.

“You cannot make mistakes against quality teams but the big thing for us is minimising that and hopefully keeping the ball a bit better.

“We take out the positives from the other games but in all honesty there is not much we can take out of the Quins game.”

And while a series of heavy defeats could easily dent the confidence of any squad, Burnell has witnessed high spirits this week ahead of their clash with the Falcons.

Newcastle broke a barren run of their own last time out, beating Exeter Chiefs 29-24 for their first Aviva Premiership Rugby win in 21 attempts.

But Burnell is hoping to bring them back down to earth before embarking on a European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign the following week.

“Surprisingly the mood is still high,” he said.

“Tuesday, after the weekend we had, I was pleasantly surprised and shocked at the mood because it does take its toll all those points and a lot of the criticism.

“But the lads are training well, no-one is jibbing, there are no excuses. Everyone is getting on with it and hopefully there will be chances for other people a week on Saturday out in Lyon.”

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