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RUGBY UNION: Welsh suffer late collapse
London Welsh begin the serious stuff again today and should not take long to put their 42-14 defeat at home to Dragons in the LV= Cup defeat behind them.
Their priority has been on the Aviva Premiership all season, so Saturday's clash at Leicester carries more weight than all the previous four cup matches put together.
That said, this was a disappointing finish to a game that had seen Welsh lead 14-9 just before the hour mark.
Welsh gave debuts to Argentine international centre Gonzalo Tiesi and on-loan Henley Hawks flanker Ryan Newman – the former Oxford Harlequins player.
Gavin Henson made his return from a calf injury in the second half, having last played on November 4.
Dragons had the first scoring chance on three minutes, but fly half Steffan Jones's penalty from halfway hit the right post and Welsh were able to clear.
There were a couple of good moments from Newman, who found himself involved in two attacks.
Exiles scrum half Alex Davies saw his penalty drift wide on ten minutes.
Newman, however, limped off on 13 minutes, to be replaced by Ed Williamson.
Jones put Dragons ahead when he made it third time lucky with a penalty, but fly half Ryan Davis replied in kind on 19 minutes.
Davis soon slotted a second penalty after a deliberate knock-on in the Dragons defence, but Jones hit back almost immediately.
Scrum half Davies went close with a long-range penalty as Welsh's half-backs seemed happy to share the kicking duties.
A promising foray on the left from powerful wing Joe Ajuwa set up a penalty, which Davis slotted for 9-6.
Prop Greg Bateman almost finished off a strong attack for the Exiles, but knocked on as he drove for the line.
That proved the final scoring chance of a half that never really got going.
Full back Tom Voyce had to scramble back in defence at the start of the second period, but Welsh could not fully clear their lines and conceded a penalty, which Jones slotted.
The Exiles managed to conjure up an opportunity on their left wing, but Ajuwa fumbled the pass.
Another chance came to nothing with Welsh wing Phil MacKenzie giving Ajuwa a forward pass.
Henson replaced Davis on 53 minutes – and Welsh scored immediately.
It was from a driving maul, executed with patience and precision, rather than any Henson-inspired back play, but Williamson touched down for 14-9.
Henson missed the conversion from out wide and it was soon 14-12 as Jones struck with a fourth penalty.
Welsh’s lead was short-lived, with Jones's fifth and sixth penalties following in quick succession. Poor discipline had undone all the Exiles’ good work.
And it got much worse as the Dragons found an extra gear in the closing ten minutes.
Firstly, they created space to give full back Hallam Amos an easy run in on the right, Jones converting.
Try No 2 came from another Jones, No 8 Ieuan Jones blasting over following a quick tap.
Steffan Jones converted this and an interception effort from flanker Jevon Groves, who latched on to Ajuwa’s loose pass.
There was still time for Steffan Jones to rub salt in Welsh’s wounds with a last-minute penalty from halfway.
Losing 42-14 was harsh on the Exiles, but they fell away badly.
London Welsh: Voyce (J Lewis 63), Ajuwa, Tiesi (Keats 63), Parker, MacKenzie, Davis (Henson 53), Davies, Bristow (Montanella 51), Briggs (Briggs 70), Bateman (Tideswell 51), Mills, Corker, Beach (capt), Newman (Williamson 13), Browne (Brown 47).
Newport Gwent Dragons: Amos, Pewtner, Leach, Dixon (Downes 72), Prydie, S Jones, W Evans (capt) (Tyler 72), O Evans (Price 61), Gustafson (Parry 73), Way (Williams 63), Nimmo, A Jones, Groves, Waters (Cudd 51), I Jones. Reps not used: Smith, D Evans.
Referee: A Small (RFU)
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