After being out of action for a little over three months with injury, probably the last thing Daniel Browne wanted was to be faced with 80 metres of open ground between him and the Ealing Trailfinders tryline.
But that’s just the scenario which faced the London Welsh back row forward on his return to action in last Saturday’s Greene King IPA Championship victory at Vallis Way, after nonchalantly intercepting a pass inside his own 22.
“I think I must have taken two steps and was looking around already,” said Browne. “I was hoping they were a bit further away, but they seemed to be closing fairly quickly.
“I think my calf was starting to tighten up a little bit before that, so that’s probably the only reason I didn’t go all the way.”
Browne made it as far as half-way, but he’d already made his mark by setting up Nick Scott for one of Welsh’s five tries in a 39-6 victory, as well as getting some valuable game time under his belt, if slightly more than he’d been expecting.
Sidelined after picking up a hand injury in Welsh’s defeat to Bedford Blues at Goldington Road in November, Browne got 40 minutes in a friendly against Blackheath before being thrust into fray against Ealing as first half replacement when Richard Thorpe was forced off with an injury.
“I wanted to ease back into. I was hoping Justin [Burnell] would look to the bench with 15-20 minutes to go,” he said.
“It feels like it’s been almost a year since I played. I felt that rusty but it was good to get back out there. I was lucky enough to get a run out against Blackheath on nice a dry astro turf pitch, which was good.”
Welsh had to be patient on Saturday against an Ealing side which frustrated the visitors in the first half. The Exiles trailed by six points at one stage but fought back to lead 13-6 at the break thanks to Pete Browne’s try, before crossing more four times in the second half through Nathan Vella, Seb Stegmann, Nick Scott and Tom May.
“A couple of tries went a begging, the last pass went down, and if we’d taken those chances we’d have been 20-6 up, or something like that, at half-time and we wouldn’t have felt as much pressure coming out at the start of the second half,” said Browne.
“All respect to Ealing, they’ve been fighting hard and they came out with nothing to lose and they made life hard. They showed that in the first half.
“But we managed to pick up that try just before half time, which was crucial. It gave us a bit of confidence going into the second half.
“We got a good stern talking to at half-time and got told to be patient and to earn the right to score tries. Lucky for us our forwards dug in and we finished off a few good moves.
“We knew that if we stuck to what the coaches make us do in training all week, those things would pay off because those systems work, and that proved it.
“We’ve been due a performance like that. We’re doing it in patches, 20 minutes here and 30 minutes there. If we put an 80 minute performance together it just shows we can put teams away and put up big scores.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and keeping playing the way we’re training and we’ll come away with wins.”