Exiles take command
London Welsh dominate first leg agaonst the Pirates
Last Updated: 05/07/12 5:14pm
London Welsh shrugged off their off-pitch obstacles to claim a 37-21 victory over the Cornish Pirates in Penzance.
The Exiles went into the first leg of their Championship play-off after hearing they would be denied promotion to the Aviva Premiership even if they prevailed as they had not met minimum standards criteria.
Club officials are still hoping to overturn the decision and the players put themselves in a strong position to take advantage of any U-turn by taking a 16-point advantage back to Oxford's Kassam Stadium for next Wednesday's second leg.
The Pirates, semi-final conquerors of Bristol, justified their favourites' tag by storming into an early lead through a try from wing Gavin Pointer that full-back Rob Cook converted.
But London Welsh then scored 23 unanswered points as wings Joe Ajuwa and Nick Scott touched down for tries converted by Alex Davies, who also added two penalties, while Gordon Ross dropped a goal.
A penalty try awarded by referee Greg Garner against London Welsh's scrum cut the gap to 23-14 just before the interval as Cook converted.
After a scoreless third quarter, Welsh struck twice in two minutes through Hudson Tonga'uiha and James Lewis, which finished off their hosts despite flanker Phil Burgess' consolation effort that Cook improved.