London Welsh ended their British & Irish Cup campaign on a winning note with victory over Swansea in the mud at Old Deer Park on Sunday.
Will Johnson forced his way over to give the home side the lead, but Nicky Thomas’ penalty meant there was little to separate the sides at the break.
Welsh made sure of the win early in the second half when Gordon Ross’ penalty was followed by Josh Drauniniu crossing in the corner. Thomas added a second penalty for Swansea but a late penalty try for the home side gave the final scoreline a more comfortable look.
The rain which had plagued the Exiles’ trip to Neath last Friday had clearly followed Swansea on their journey east on the M4, and it wasn’t long before Old Deer Park resembled a mud-bath with the ball a bar of soap.
Swansea fly half James Dixon had the first chance of points but his subsequent miss could be attributed in some measure to the atrocious conditions under foot, and they only got worse.
Gordon Ross turned down a penalty in front the posts, after a free kick was taken on by Saul Nelson, but Welsh endeavour did not bring reward on the scoreboard.
Errie Claassens was forced to concede a five-metre scrum under pressure from Tom Morgan, but Welsh escaped and a nicely weighted kick into the corner for Marcus Watson to chase resulted in good field position for the home side.
A penalty for Martin Purdy being taken out at the lineout was prodded into the corner by Ross, and after Michael Hills took the ball at the tail Johnson forced his way over the line. Ross converted.
Swansea should have been level almost immediately, though, as Nicky Thomas sidestepped a couple of tackles, only for Sam Kiley to spill the ball just metres short of the Welsh line, as Nick Runciman’s tackle came in.
Swansea pressure brought some reward when Nicky Thomas slotted over a penalty, having taken over the kicking duties from the injured Dixon, but with neither side able to hold on to the ball for longer than a few seconds chances were few and far between.
Ross extended the Welsh lead with a penalty after the break, following a late tackle by James Bija on the Dragons fly half, and two minutes later Welsh put clear day light between the sides when Drauniniu crossed in the corner.
Nelson hacked on and did superbly to re-gather and after Martin Purdy had crashed on, Simon Whatling and Claassens sent Drauniniu over in the corner.
Thomas was unlucky to miss with his second attempt at the posts, but the Swansea full back did pull back three points for his side when Welsh were caught offside in front of their own posts.
Epi Taione’s tackle on Thomas was deemed worthy of a yellow card, but the away side could make no further inroad into the Welsh lead, and the home side rounded the game off with a penalty try in the last minute. Ross added the extras.
With Welsh already eliminated from the British & Irish Cup, the Exiles will now have a weekend off before beginning their play-off campaign against Nottingham at Old Deer Park on March 12 (12:35pm).
London Welsh scorers:
Tries: Johnson, Drauniniu, Penalty; Cons: Ross: (2); Pens: Ross.
Pens: Thomas (2).
London Welsh: Errie Claassens, Marcus Watson, Hudson Tonga’uiha, Simon Whatling, Josh Drauniniu, Gordon Ross ©, Nicholas Runciman, Lorne Ward, Saul Nelson, Will Johnson, Martin Purdy, Matt Corker, Epi Taione, Michael Hills, Jonathan Fisher.
Replacements: Mike Powell for Purdy (22min – blood), Purdy for Powell (25min – blood rev), Ben Stevenson for Runciman (h-t), Waisea Luveniyali for Claassens (60min), Jon Mills for Taione (70min), Rob Lewis for Drauniniu (70min).
Replacement not used: Dan George.
Yellow card: Epi Taione (59min).
Swansea: Nicky Thomas, Rhys Jones, Chris Shelmerdine, David Watts, Nick Hardwood, James Dixon, Phil Tucker, Roy Jones, Paul John, Marc O’Kelly, Sam Kiley ©, Richard Kelly, Tom Morgan, James Bija, Ben Lewis.
Replacements: Alun Rees for Paul John (22min), Lloyd Thomas for Dixon (27min), Rory Pitman for Morgan (48min), Richard Murphy for Marc O’Kelly (55min), Ben Fox for Kiley (55min), Steffan Jones for Kelly (64min).
Replacements not used: James Garland.
Officials: Ref – Darren Gammage; Assistants: Philip Davies & Lloyd Jackson.