Welsh skipper will give back teeth for Premiership survival

First published in Sport by

Mills prepared to sacrifice more teeth for the Welsh cause

London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills is prepared to sacrifice more teeth, if it means London Welsh retain their Aviva Premiership status.

Mills lost two teeth - one artificial - and his gum shield in an accidental clash of heads with team-mate Alfie To’oala during the first half of the Exiles’ 25-24 victory over the Exeter Chiefs at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday.

Mills left the field to receive treatment before returning to help the Exiles secure a historic first Premiership win – a victory achieved thanks to Ed Jackson’s late try and Seb Jewell’s conversion.

“I don’t mind giving one for every win we get this season,” said Mills, who made his 146th appearance for the Exiles on Sunday.

“It was quite funny how people had already written us off after our first two games, but we were playing two of the best sides in the league.

“Exeter are a quality side in their own right, but to be able to get a win at home at the Kassam was an amazing feeling for the boys. We’re on the way now and hopefully we can keep moving forward.”

Sunday’s win came on the back of defeats to Leicester Tigers and Harlequins, which saw Welsh concede 78 points.

Mills, though, believes that playing the best first up has actually served the Exiles well.

“No one gave us a chance in those games and we went in planning to win them, but the one thing it did do was teach us how teams play in this league and what we need to do to be successful. We’ve adapted our game after those first two weeks,” he said.

“It’s sides around us that we’ve got to be beating. If we can get five or six of those eight-point games we might be alright at the end of the season.”

If Welsh are to do that then Mills is acutely aware that the Exiles will need to address gifting their opponents a two try head start.

“I’m used to us giving away 14 point head starts – that’s what we seem to be doing every week,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve got to sort that out, we can’t be giving sides 14 points, especially when we’re on their line and they go the length. If we take that away hopefully we can get some comfortable wins rather than last minute ones.”

For the second time this season Welsh now face a short turnaround with Sale Sharks next up for Lyn Jones’ men on Friday evening at the Salford City Stadium, and this time Mills believes the Exiles will be better prepared.

“That’s the nature of this league with us having to play at Oxford on Sundays. We did that against Leicester and Harlequins, so we know what’s coming. Fingers crossed we’ll be alright on Friday,” he added.
 

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