CRESTFALLEN London Welsh boss Justin Burnell hopes yesterday’s 52-0 thrashing by Exeter Chiefs could prove a blessing in disguise for the Premiership newcomers.
Exeter No8 Thomas Waldrom crossed twice on his Chiefs debut, while David Ewers, Sam Hill, Jack Arnott and Chrysnader Botha ran in the rest of the visitors’ seven tries.
It was a nightmare return to the top flight for a much-changed London Welsh side who fielded nine new players, but Burnell attempted to find a silver lining.
“The season is 10 months and we know what it’s about,” he said. “We could have stayed in the Championship and played in front of 800 people, or we could play in the Premiership and put our hands up. It’s pretty straight forward: we can go home and hide away, or we puff our chests out and put a smile back on our faces.
“We play Bath next so it doesn't get any easier, but we just have to look forward to that. It’s 52-0 and we have nothing on the scoresheet. Maybe people will look at that and take us for granted, which may not be a bad thing for us.”
Victory sent Exeter top of the table on the new season’s opening weekend as one of four teams to enjoy bonus-point wins, along with Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers and Saracens.
Champions Northampton thumped Gloucester 53-6 in Friday night’s curtain-raiser and Leicester beat Newcastle 36-17 on Saturday, when a David Strettle hat-trick helped Sarries edge out London Wasps 34-28. On the same London Double Header bill at Twickenham, Harlequins held off London Irish to win 20-15, while elsewhere Bath won 29-20 at Sale.