London Welsh evoke memories of the glory days
January 29, 2000
London Welsh revived memories of glory days of yesteryear to book their quarter-final place at the expense of Premiership Two rivals Coventry.
Welsh have not made an appearance in the competition's last four in more than a decade and their victory set up a lucrative tie with one of the top sides they once terrified 20 years ago.
The Exiles took the lead after just 30 seconds, capitalising on Coventry's apparent willingness to stray offside, with an Andy Lee penalty.
Welsh coach Clive Griffiths has worked hard to maintain the Exiles' tradition for attractive running rugby while their visitors are renowned for their forward-dominated style.
Coventry equalised with the first of two penalties by full-back Steve Gough but just seconds later they were temporarily reduced to 14 men when captain Lee Crofts was dismissed for dissent.
Lee added another penalty but the Exiles failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and soon paid the price.
Crofts returned from his sin bin spell to power Coventry forward at the Welsh line.
The Welsh defence bravely held firm before Glenn Delaney crashed down the blind side from a five metre scrum.
However, with a host of legends from their 70s heyday watching in the stands, the Exiles came back strongly.
Former Quins centre Baughan Going was the key influence setting up the comeback score with a surging, dancing run that had the watching Barry John on his feet.
The junior All Black was grounded short of the line but flanker Michael White was on hand to restore the hosts' early lead.
A further exchange of penalties followed as both sides struggled to stamp their authority on proceedings.
Coventry started the second half brightly driving hard at the Exiles line and making their forward advantage count.
Welsh full-back Adam Jones saved a certain try with a brilliant cover tackle but his bravery had its price. He spent five minutes being attended to by medics before he was stretchered off and rushed away in a waiting ambulance.
From the restart Coventry won the lineout and hooker David Addleton used his bulk to hammer his way through a melee of red shirts.
The Exiles' response was immediate and Going's pace again left Coventry flat-footed.
The winger chased down his own pinpoint kick before accelerating away from three tackles to touch down in the corner.
Going increased the lead with a sweetly struck drop goal but it was a kick into space by prop Ian Dunston that sealed Welsh's place in the quarter-finals.
Dunston's ungainly attempt to find touch was far from textbook but it resulted in Going crossing the line for his second try.
Peter Shaw heaped more misery on the visitors with the hosts' final try late in injury time.
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch