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Jones: Welsh are good enough to stay in Premiership
1:49pm Tuesday 8th January 2013 in Sport
Whatever Lyn Jones said to his side at half-time London Welsh produced an impressive fight-back to come agonisingly close to this season’s biggest upset, writes Adam Knight.
And although he saw his side lose 31-26 at home to defending Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins director of rugby Jones insists the clash at the Kassam Stadium was a mark of how far his side have come this year.
Trailing 21-6 at half-time London Welsh fans must have feared the worst after they fell 40-3 to Quins at the Stoop back in September.
But two tries after the break saw the Exiles get to within five points of their visitors, proving the new-boys are not about to relinquish their Aviva Premiership status without a fight.
“We’re showing we’ve got determination, we’re showing we’ve got spirit but the biggest thing we’re showing is that we’re good enough to stay in this league,” said Jones.
“If we played Harlequins at the start of the season they would have put 30-something points on us - and lo and behold they did. Today we had a bit more about us.
“We’ve settled as a team since that cold wet night at the Stoop - we’ve built, and I think we deserved the bonus point.
“When you’re 21-6 down at the break and you’re staring down the barrel of a shotgun - you don’t have a plan - so we were positive, we sat down and spoke about how we were going to win the game.
“We got to within a winning position at one point in time, but Quins showed their class.
“They are a very ambitious side and it’s a shame more teams in England don’t play like them.”
His opposite number, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea, gave a mixed review of his team's performance - saying his side demonstrated both the best and worst of Quins rugby as they returned to the summit.
England team mates Danny Care and Chris Robshaw as well as the returning George Lowe all crossed for tries in the first-half for Quins as the hosts could only reply with two Gordon Ross penalties.
But Nick Scott and Ed Jackson replied for London Welsh after the interval, either side of a Nick Evans score, to hand the home side a losing bonus point.
At times Quins cut the home side to shreds through the clinical, offloading game that has become their trademark, however, they allowed Welsh back into the game as a result of errors at the breakdown and at set-piece.
The defending champions have set their standards high for 2013, and O'Shea insists anything less must be met with scrutiny.
"We gave them an intercept try which is never a good thing to do - but at times I think we played some absolutely magnificent rugby," said O'Shea.
"We focus on our mistakes, I said to the guys in the dressing rooms the phases we don't get right - we need to focus on ourselves and take other people out of the equation.
"I'm just massively frustrated - Ollie [Lindsay-Hague] came in at full-back and dazzling people with his feet, that's what you want to talk about.
"After 13 games the fact we're top of the league and playing some good rugby is the wrong thing to do for this group. We're meeting expectation head-on and we're meeting teams head-on.
"You saw two teams with a massive physical endeavour - and I'm crediting London Welsh, and Lyn, he's making them scrap for everything they've got."
* Aviva are proud to be title sponsor of Aviva Premiership Rugby – one of the world's leading rugby union competitions. Each season will feature 135 games, which will be watched by 1.7 million people live at the grounds – visit premiershiprugby.com