London Welsh’s Aviva Premiership honeymoon period is well and truly over, says captain Jonathan Mills.
The euphoria which carried the Exiles through the opening two months of league and European action now gives way to the week in, week out demands of top flight rugby.
Mills, however, insists the Exiles will meet the challenge head on, starting with Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday.
“The honeymoon period is over for everyone,” said Mills. “Now we’re really going to see just how good every side is in the Aviva Premiership.
“With the weather beginning to close in there’s going to be a lot of dog fights, but we’re up for those matches. If anything it might suit us given the way we’ve played a few times this season and help us get a few more wins, rather than just bonus points.”
The Exiles ended a three match losing streak at weekend in Prato, thanks to Alex Davies’ 79th minute penalty which gave Lyn Jones’s side a 32-31 win over l Cavalieri and the club its first-ever victory in Europe.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for Welsh on the back of a nightmare Amlin Challenge Cup debut at the hands of Stade Francais and back-to-back Premiership defeats to Saracens and Gloucester, albeit with the consolation of what could prove to be two crucial bonus points. Mills, though, has mixed feelings over the Exiles’ start to the Premiership season.
“We had eight points after four games, so to finish with ten points from six was a bit disappointing. We definitely feel we could have got a win against Saracens or Gloucester,” he said.
“The way the games have been going recently in the Premiership they’ve been very tight, so for us it’s just about making sure we end up on the right side of the result, like we did against Exeter.
“However, if you’d offered me ten points after six games at the start of the season, I’d have bitten your hand off.”
Mills sat out last weekend’s trip to Italy but was part of the side humbled 68-19 by Stade last time out at the Kassam Stadium. It was appearance number 150 for the Exiles for Mills, who joined the club in 2007.
“The defeat to Stade Francais was a big disappointment but the boys who come in, who haven’t had much rugby so far this season, put their hands up for selection and played well,” he added.
“It was good to get the win in Italy to allow us to take a bit of momentum into next weekend at Wasps, who are a very good team. Any team would have struggled last year with the amount of injuries they had. They had to blood some youngsters and they were still able to stay up.
“This season they signed the likes of James Haskell, Tom Palmer and Stephen Jones so they’ve some quality individuals in their team. They’ll be looking for a home win this weekend I’ve no doubt.”
Wasps on Sunday at Adams Park signifies the start of a big seven days for the Exiles, with Bath to follow a week later at the Kassam Stadium, as the club strives to defy the doubters and secure its place in the Premiership.
“We’re going out to win every game – we’re not looking for bonus points we’re looking to win games. If we take care of our own performance and put right the errors of the last few games we won’t be too far away,” said Mills.