RUGBY UNION: Relegation battle will go down to the wire, says Exiles coach

The Oxford Times: London Welsh coach Lyn Jones London Welsh coach Lyn Jones

LYN Jones accepts London Welsh’s battle to avoid relegation will go right to the wire.

The Exiles’ head coach says he is unfazed with his side playing five of their remaining seven matches away from home as they fight for Aviva Premiership survival.

And he is backing Welsh to come good, confident that there is more improvement to come.

Jones saw his team slip to just three points off the bottom following Sunday’s 26-25 defeat to basement side Sale at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium.

They now have only two more home matches – the first of which is in almost two months’ time – and now embark on four successive away games.

They visit Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, followed by trips to Saracens, Gloucester and Bath.

Their Premiership campaign ends with home games against Northampton and Worcester, sandwiching a visit to London Irish.

Jones said: “The good thing about the Kassam is that the support is growing, which is very encouraging for us.

“But playing away from home does not hold any fear for us.”

He added: “I said before the Sale game that the battle at the bottom is going to go right to the wire and I firmly believe so.

“We were on the wrong end of a one-pointer and the game could have perhaps gone either way.

“We obviously didn’t take our opportunities when they arose, but we picked up a bonus point, which takes us a step closer to Worcester.”

Worcester are also in the relegation picture, lying just four points above Welsh.

All this means the tension is far greater than when the Exiles began their Premiership adventure at home to Leicester on September 2.

But Jones stressed that his approach has not, and will not change.

“When we played Leicester here at the start of the season and lost by 30 or 40 points and at Harlequins the week after, the emphasis then was the same as it is now,” said Jones.

“We just concentrate on ourselves and the improvements we have to make as a team and as individuals.

“I feel we can improve, but on the day, if the ball bounces the wrong side, you can’t do much about that.”

Jones, however, does concede his players need more composure for the run-in.

“Being a successful rugby player is about dealing with pressure situations and clearly seeing what is happening, understanding the laws and pushing them as far as you can,” he said.

“A lot of Sale’s points came from unsmart play from ourselves.

“It is dealing with pressure and we are not doing it well enough at the moment.”

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