RFU Championship final: London Welsh host Bristol at Kassam Stadium in first leg

Last Updated: 27/05/14 12:16pm

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London Welsh will seek an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership as they face Bristol at the Kassam Stadium in the first leg of the RFU Championship final.

Justin Burnell's men - who achieved a second placed finish in the regular season following relegation - secured their spot in the final with a tense 60-58 victory over Leeds Carnegie in the semi-finals.

After beating Rotherham Titans in the first leg of their semi-final, Bristol went to Abbeydale Park and claimed a 22-11 win as they took their place in the Championship's showpiece event.

The sides' two previous meetings this season have produced one win apiece - Welsh winning 22-7 at the Kassam Stadium in November and Bristol coming out on top 25-21 at the Memorial Stadium last month.

Both have previously graced the top flight, Bristol for many years with distinction until their fall five years ago while Welsh have had a brief taste, in 2012/13, and want more.

Exiles head coach Burnell has made four changes to the side which prevailed against Leeds Carnegie for the first leg of the final.

In the backs, Seb Stegmann moves to full-back with Alan Awcock named among the replacements and Rhys Crane comes in to the run-on side at right wing, while Chris Cook starts at scrum half in place of the injured Tyson Keats.

In the forwards, Daniel Browne returns to the starting line up having missed Welsh's semi-final second leg through injury and Welshman Burnell expects a fantastic atmosphere at the Kassam Stadium.

All to play for

"This is what we set out to do back in July - reach the Championship final," Burnell told the club's official site.

"We're up against the league winners in Bristol, but it's all to play for. We're at home and the crowd against Leeds at the Kassam Stadium was phenomenal and we're hoping for the same noise levels and support on Wednesday night."

Wales international Ryan Jones continues to captain Bristol after being handed the armband at half-time of the semi-final victory over Rotherham.

In total Andy Robinson has also made four changes to his starting line-up, with Luke Baldwin coming into an otherwise unchanged backline, while Ross Johnston and Jason Hobson are named in the front row.

Nick Koster is included in the pack, as Marco Mama switches to openside flanker in place of the injured Ross Rennie, who took a blow to the knee during the semi-finals.

"We're pleased to have beaten Rotherham over two gruelling games, but the job isn't done yet. We won't start patting ourselves on the back because the biggest test is yet to come," Bristol prop James Hobson told their website.

"What that result showed is the incredible belief and the immense spirit within the group. There's a great attitude here and we showed our mental toughness when the chips were down."

London Welsh: 15 Stegmann, 14 Crane, 13 May (capt), 12 Jewell, 11 Scott, 10 Ross, 9 Cook; 1 Trevett, 2 Morris, 3 Edwards, 4 Spencer, 5 Corker, 6 P Browne, 7 Kirwan, 8 D Browne

Replacements: 16 Vella, 17 Bristow, 18 Tideswell, 19 West, 20 Thorpe, 21 Lewis, 22 Awcock

Bristol: 15 Wallace, 14 Watkins, 13 Tovey, 12 Mosses, 11 Short, 10 Robinson, 9 Baldwin; 1 Traynor, 2 Johnston, 3 Hobson, 4 Glynn, 5 Townson, 6 Koster, 7 Mama, 8 Jones (capt)

Replacements: 16 Lawrence, 17 Hall, 18 Eadie, 19 Skirving, 20 Tipuna, 21 Jarvis, 22 Hughes

You can watch London Welsh v Bristol live on Sky Sports 3HD from 7:30pm on Wednesday

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