No one was left in any doubt was as to why Bordeaux Begles are currently riding high in the Top 14, as the French side ran in seven tries in a clinical display at the Kassam Stadium on Thursday night.
The win put Raphael Ibanez’s team back in to contention in Pool 4, after their surprise home defeat to Edinburgh Rugby, while leaving the Exiles rooted to the foot of the table.
While Welsh’s priorities may unashamedly lie elsewhere, the Club’s search for a much needed win to kick-start their season must now turn to the LV= Cup and Saturday’s trip to Bath Rugby and the visit of Gloucester Rugby to the Kassam Stadium on November 9, before the Aviva Premiership reconvenes in earnest.
For a time, Welsh hinted that they might run their high flying visitors much closer than they ultimately did – indeed it was the home side that started the brighter. A knock on straight from the kick off led to Olly Barkley opening the scoring.
Barkley, starting a centre, had the chance to double the Welsh lead after the home side threatened to catch and drive their way over, only for his attempt to drift wide.
After a slow start, Bordeaux were beginning to settle. Their slick offloading game was a signal of that and slick hands from Hugh Chalmers and Darly Domvo sent Lucas Blanc over. Pierre Bernard converted.
Just as in Lyon, though, the Welsh scrum was proving a source of encouragement and a penalty briefly allowed Barkley to close the gap, only for Bernard to immediately respond in kind.
Welsh were showing no shortage of ambition and Paul Rowley’s quick tap penalty was carried on by Shane Cahill in to the Bordeaux 22, only for Seb Jewell’s grubber to be turned into counter attacking ball.
The French side worked the ball wide to Metuisela Talebulamaijaina and the winger sprinted away before hacking on and diving full length to touch down. Bernard added the extras and after 28 minutes the away side had daylight, leading 17-6. It was a scoreline that hardly reflected Welsh’s contribution though.
Now in full flow, Darly Domvo should have added a third try but the full back couldn’t take the final pass after more slick handling.
Try number three wasn’t long in coming for the visitors, however, as a scrum penalty was pushed in to the corner and the Bordeaux pack drove Clement Maynadier over the line. Bernard did the necessary and then added his fourth conversion after Bordeaux again displayed their offloading skills for Matthew Clarkin to cross for the bonus point try - Yann Lesgourgues and Blanc to the fore in the build up.
Not for the first time this season, Welsh found themselves in need of a big second half performance and for a time it seemed as if they might produce it.
A Gordon Ross penalty took the home into the Bordeaux 22 and the Exiles proceeded to batter away until Ross’ deft pass opened the door for Seb Jewell to dive over. Barkley added the extras.
It was just reward for a good spell of pressure from the home, but it would not be the catalyst for a comeback, as Bernard ghosted through the Welsh midfield to touch down under the posts before converting his own try.
Two minutes later Bordeaux were in again – Talebulamaijaina racing clear before releasing Domvo to add try number six. Bernard added the conversion and it seemed the Exiles were in for a very long remaining 28 minutes.
But while the cause may have been lost, the home side responded with encouraging heart and determination. First, some outstanding defence on their own line denied Bordeaux a seventh try – Ben West eventually diving on a loose ball – before defence was turned in to a sustained period of attack and Ross’ quick tap penalty eventually led to Daniel Browne forcing his way over. Barkley added the conversion.
The last word, however, would go the to the Top 14 side – Domvo running back Tristan Roberts’ chip over the top to claim his second of the night and Bordeaux’s seventh in a comprehensive win.
London Welsh scorers:
Tries: Jewell, Daniel Browne; Cons: Barkley (2); Pens: Barkley (2).
Bordeaux Begles scorers:
Tries: Domvo (2), Blanc, Talebulamaijaina, Maynadier, Clarkin, Bernard; Cons: Bernard (6), Beauxis; Pens: Bernard.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (SCO)
Touch Judges: Peter Allan & Bob Nevins