A ‘bad day at the office’ was how London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones described it and it was hard to disagree with that appraisal, as the Exiles were given a masterclass by the reigning Aviva Premiership champions.
After events just the other side of the A316, it was unlikely Conor O’Shea’s charges would be caught cold for a second week running. Instead the Exiles reaped the backlash of Wasps’ audacity and found themselves 14-0 down before they’d hardly laid a hand on the ball.
Quins were precise, accurate and dynamic in everything they did. It was a harsh lesson for the Championship winners, if any were needed, in the levels they aspire to achieve.
Arguably Welsh can console themselves with the fact that they’ve now played the best the Premiership can offer. It doesn’t exactly get easier from here on in, but for a team hastily put together over the last five weeks it was another valuable 80 minutes under its belt.
Nick Evans’ chip unlocked the Welsh defence in the fourth minute for the first of the home side’s six try haul. Centre George Lowe was on the same wavelength to collect and the excellent Ugo Monye muscled up to the Welsh line.
With the Welsh defence stretched, George Robson breezed through a gap to touch down. Evans added the extras, as he would on four more times through the course of the evening before departing to an appreciative round of applause.
The home support only had four minutes to wait before celebrating their side’s second try. Monye’s power saw him punch a whole up the middle and the winger was then in acres of space to collect Evans’ huge miss pass to cross unopposed, with Welsh short of numbers out wide.
It had been a whirlwind start by the champions. Evans was dictating, while Monye and full back Mike Brown looked dangerous every time they touched the ball. The only highlight for Welsh in those early exchanges was the sight of Monye coming in off his wing, only to be met by Hudson Tonga’uiha and duly picked up and driven back ten metres.
That seemed to give Welsh a lift and it was no surprise that their only points of the night arrived soon after. Tom Arscott sliced through the Quins defence and a penalty gave Gordon Ross the chance to get Welsh on the board.
The home side would reply with their third try. Monye pounced when Welsh failed to deal with an up and under and Quins drove up to the Exiles’ line. When the ball came back, Monye ghosted in for his second.
Significantly, Welsh were holding their own in the scrum and competing well at the breakdown. Twice, as the first half came to a close, they turned the ball over, although on neither occasion were they able to take full advantage.
The early second half sinbinning of Paulica Ion handed Quins the initiative, with the Welsh prop seeing yellow for impeding Karl Dickson as the scrum half took a quick tap penalty.
Sensing Welsh might be there for the taking, Quins opted for the scrum, but the Exiles held firm. Indeed, they would keep the home side scoreless until the closing moments of Ion’s sinbinning, when Brown sidestepped his way up to the line and Robson forced his way over for his second of the night.
The Exiles kept pressing and Tonga’uiha momentarily threatened when he broke the Quins line, only for the home side’s cover defence to quickly consumed the Welsh centre.
Brown was again the architect of his side’s fifth try. The full back chipping ahead for
Lowe to gather and score.
Welsh went in search of consolation and Ed Jackson produced one strong carry, but it was the home side that closed out the scoring. Arscott saw yellow for challenging Monye in the air and replacement Ben Botica went over to round things off.
After facing Leicester and Harlequins in the space of five days, the Exiles will welcome the nine day turnaround before they welcome Exeter Chiefs to the Kassam Stadium on September 16.
Tries: Robson (2), Monye (2), Lowe, Botica; Cons: Evans (5).
Referee: Luke Pearce
Referee Assistants: JP Doyle & Kevin Stewart