LONDON WELSH head coach Phil Greening says it’s all about momentum and not about finishing third as the Dragons complete their regular season fixture list against Nottingham at Old Deer Park on Saturday (2pm). The Dragons are guaranteed to finish fourth but can still pip the Cornish Pirates – who lead Welsh by four points – to a top three finish provided they slip up at Doncaster and Welsh do the business against Nottingham.
However, Greening is not unduly unconcerned by where the Dragons finish, and sees Saturday more as an opportunity for Welsh to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Worcester and build some momentum ahead of the play-offs. “It really doesn’t matter; the two groups are going to be really tough anyway. Whoever’s in our group, whether it’s Worcester, Nottingham or whoever, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“It’s about momentum; I think we’ve got a lot to give. We’ve met the top four or five teams in the last few weeks and we’ve still got boys to come back, and I still think we’ve got a lot of growing to do. A win against Nottingham is crucial because we want to finish strongly at home. We want Old Deer Park to be a special place going into the play-offs.”
Welsh will be keen to build on their second half performance against the Championship leaders at Sixways, which saw the Dragons fight back from 39-3 down to snatch a bonus point with four tries in the last 20 minutes. James Lewis crossed twice before Liam Gibson went over in the 79th minute and there was still time for Josh Drauniniu to race clear for his fourteenth try of the season.
“It was massively important that the boys showed a lot of character after the first half to come back and get that point,” said Greening. We went there to come away with something, and believing that we could actually turn Worcester over. But it’s good that we finished with confidence and now we need a big game against Nottingham.”
The Dragons had trailed 32-3 at the break and Greening admits there was more than a bit of soul searching in the London Welsh dressing room during the interval. “I asked for a response at half-time and I’m very proud of the boys. We said ‘the only people who can change this is you and how you react will determine where we are going into next week’.”
Welsh suffered a first half blitz at Sixways with Kai Horstmann, Marel Garvey, Andy Goode and Miles Benjamin all crossing, and Goode adding 12 points with the boot. “When you get a team that’s as clinical as Worcester you are going to get punished, and I thought Worcester were fantastic. Everything they did, they did on the money,” added Greening. “They’ve got a group of players with the experience of being in the Premiership and that experience really told – they were so clinical.
“But let’s not take anything away from our boys, we let Worcester be clinical. We didn’t deliver and when things started going against us lost our confidence and it wasn’t until half-time that we got it back and you saw a different team in the second half.”