Jackson: Welsh have competitive edge for Premiership survival

Wimbledon Guardian: Breathing fire: London Welsh star Ed Jackson Breathing fire: London Welsh star Ed Jackson

London Welsh try hero Ed Jackson reckons winning promotion via the Championship play-offs has given the Exiles the competitive edge to survive in the top flight.
 

The 23-year-old scored the winning try in last week’s thrilling first win over Exeter Chiefs and found his try scoring form again in Saturday’s 29-19- win at Sale Sharks.
 

The step in to the top flight is not an easy one to make with only a handful of teams making a lasting transition in to the Premiership in recent seasons.
 

Worcester Warriors survived last season with Exeter having achieved the feat 12 months earlier, while Leeds Carnegie have also enjoyed promotion and relegation in the past decade.
 

Welsh’s promotion was only finally confirmed in May after their two-legged final triumph over the Cornish Pirates and Jackson insisted the whole experience had helped rather than hindered the playing side.
 

“The championship is a good league.  There is not a lot of difference between the top six and the lower half of the Premiership,” he said.
 

“The physicality and pace is slightly difference but the biggest difference is the number of individual errors that are made.
 

“You can’t afford to make too many otherwise you get punished. At the same time, you have to take advantage of the mistakes your opponents make, because you will never know when the next one opportunity come.
 

“I think the play-off system last year stood us in good stead, because it meant we play a lot of games against the best teams in the championship.
 

“It got us acclimatised to what to expect in the Premiership.”
Harlequins  director of rugby
 

Conor O’Shea, whose side hammered Welsh 40-3 on the second weekend of the campaign, reckoned Welsh had too good a coaching set-up not to find their feet in the top flight.
 

It took a last gasp 25-24 triumph over Chiefs at the Kassam stadium – after opening the season with two defeats – to get the Exiles’ campaign up and running.
 

And tries from Mills and Jackson, plus 19-points from evergreen fly half Gordon Ross ensured lightning struck twice at Salford City stadium last Friday.
 

“Personally, it was nice to dive over, but the Exeter win meant a lot to us,” he added.
 

“We had confidence going into that game.  The first two games went as we expected them to and we had always targeted Exeter as the game to start our season.
“If you lose four in a row it puts pressure on you, so the first win was a massive relief.”
 

And Jackson reckoned Welsh would get stronger as they establish  themselves at their new home in Oxford.
 

“We had huge support at the end of the Exeter game and it was great to hear the fans in full voice. Once the university students come back, hopefully, the support will be even better and we’ll get stronger,” he said, ahead of Sunday's visit of Gloucester.

* Wales international Gavin Henson is expected to make his London Welsh debut in the Amlin Cup clash with Stade Francais on October 13.

The 30-year-old, signed in the summer after being sacked by Cardiff Blues in April, has been sidelined since fracturing his jaw in a pre-season friendly with the Scarlets.

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