London Irish second row Bryn Evans insists the continued rise of Aviva Premiership new boys London Welsh will not catch his side unawares on Saturday, revealing they are fully prepared for the challenge ahead.
Welsh have already claimed the scalps of Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby at the Kassam Stadium this season but Irish are ready to combat Welsh’s aggression up front according to Evans.
Irish still have won just once on their travels in the Aviva Premiership since September 2011 but Evans believes the incentive of potentially leapfrogging their opponents with a victory could prove the decisive factor.
“You don’t want to look at the table but it’s there in front of you in black and white,” said Evans. “It’s tenth playing eleventh and it’s against the guys that no one thought would do well this year.
“To be fair they have been one of the surprise teams in the competition and they play some good rugby.
“It’s hard and in your face and something we will have to prepare ourselves for this weekend.
“They took it to Saints at the weekend and they have taken it to numerous other packs. If you want to win games it starts up front and they definitely are performing up front.”
Also aware of their opponent’s strengths, London Welsh back row forward Adam Balding conceded his side would have to produce their best defensive performance of the season to keep out their London rivals.
And with the Premiership taking a break after the London derby as European rugby returns, Balding believes there is an added incentive to record their fourth league victory.
“There are no easy games but we have a great chance with an extended break from the Premiership after this to get some more points and get the result we deserve,” said Balding.
“We have put in a lot of hard work on the training pitch, assessed the loss at the weekend, and we have a good feeling going into this week against Irish.
“Everyone knows they are dangerous with the ball in hand and they can hurt you with their runners so it will have to probably be our biggest defensive performance of the season to combat that.
“Every weekend will pose a different challenge and all we can do is look to the next game and look to keep taking points.”
Referee: JP Doyle (50th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Andrew Watson.
(Kassam Stadium, 1pm)