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Pienaar and London Welsh searching for spark

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Just when London Welsh seem to show signs of progress they are once again blown off course and Ben Pienaar admits no one is more aware of that then the Exiles themselves.

And should last weekend’s tightly-fought loss against French heavyweights Bordeaux-Begles herald an upswing in fortunes, the back-row knows that elusive magic ingredient – consistency – is required.

It took the French side until the 67th minute to finally put the game to bed in miserable conditions on Friday, with Welsh holding fort until Metuisela Talebulamaijaina and Bernard Guiry crossed in an eventual 26-3 win.

With the Exiles out of contention in Europe they could spoil Lyon’s run to the European Rugby Challenge Cup play-offs at the Kassam Stadium this week.

However, a promising performance has often been followed by disappointment this year and it’s no different in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Take their battling 24-13 loss to Harlequins, for instance – a week later and Newcastle Falcons racked up six tries in an emphatic 38-7 victory at Kingston Park.

And though Welsh are never lacking for effort, Pienaar says the Exiles need to stop oscillating between the good and the bad.

“It was a close game and the boys gave 100 per cent, we really gave it our all and that’s what we’ll be doing from now until the end of the season,” he said.

“It was just the last ten minutes that got away from us but it was a massive performance, Bordeaux are hardly a weak team – they are one of the standout teams not just in France but Europe.

“It was possibly our best performance of the season and there were a lot of young guys out there who can take a lot of confidence from it.

“The one thing is that we need to cut out the one or two bad performances in between – when we take two steps forward, we then seem to take three steps back.

“We will see what happens against Lyon, we’re at home and they’ve got more to lose than us

“It’s difficult when you don’t have some of your starting players available to you, especially with the position we’re in, but it gives those other guys a chance to put their hand up and make the most of their time on the field.”

Pienaar has been heavily involved in Aviva Premiership Rugby so far this season – making 11 appearances in total – but as of yet has failed to make a start.

Much of that could be down to hulking No.8 Opeti Fonua’s presence since arriving in November, having made his presence keenly felt.

“I’d love to get a couple of starts but that’s Justin’s call, I see to it that I give everything and I’m ready when the opportunity comes,” added Pienaar.

“Opeti Fonua has been fantastic since he’s come in, he is a huge ball carrier and for a big guy he gets over the ball really well and wins quite a few turnovers which has surprised a lot of us – you just can’t move him.

“He’s set a high standard but we all have to give that bit extra, especially in the last few minutes of a game.”

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