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RUGBY UNION: Hawks grounded as Exiles turn it on
10:30am Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in Rugby
HENLEY Hawks were outgunned 45-5 by London Welsh in Saturday’s warm-up at Dry Leas.
The Exiles held sway in the set scrums, were effective in mauls and difficult to contain when driving from quality line-out possession.
Hawks took a shock lead after three minutes when left wing Alan Awcock – who is Welsh’s community development officer, but plays for Henley – put in a powerful run to set up full back Liam O’Neill.
But the Exiles soon replied via Mike Denbee’s try, Gordon Ross, slotting the first of four conversions.
The strength of the Welsh back row was emphasised by a brace of tries by Mitch Lees later in the half.
Hawks pursued their traditional game of running the ball at every opportunity and a couple of exciting runs by wing Xavier Andre tested the visitors’ defence.
However the maturity and experience of the Welsh backs showed in their ability to finish and skipper Tom May went in under the posts for a 28-5 half-time lead.
Welsh were able to call on a second squad in a different strip after the break, while Hawks relied on a steady stream of replacements.
Tries from Rhys Crane and Joe Ajuwa increased the Exiles’ lead and No 8 Ollie Stedman was also driven over, Will Robinson’s conversion completing the scoring.
Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: “I would have been more concerned if we’d sailed past a team and been put under no pressure whatsoever.
“This was absolutely fantastic – it makes us realise that we’re not always going to have it all our own way, and we’ve sometimes just got to work that little bit harder.
“We didn’t concede a try after their third-minute score, which was pleasing, and went onto score seven tries. We’ve also got to give Henley the respect they deserve and rightly so.”
Saturday’s win ensured Welsh ended their three game pre-season schedule unbeaten, after also defeating Chinnor and being held to a draw by Scarlets.
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