The waiting game pays off for Thomas

It’s been a game of patience for Aled Thomas so far this season, but he got his reward last Saturday when he stepped off the bench to inspire London Welsh to a 39-14 victory over Bristol.

The Wales Sevens World Cup winning fly half crossed twice on his way to a personal 21-point haul as Welsh gained some small measure of revenge for their semi-final defeat at the hands of Bristol, and stretched their unbeaten start to the season at Old Deer Park to four matches with a maximum 20-point return.

With Gordon Ross in outstanding form at ten for the Exiles, Thomas has had to bide his time – starting just one of Welsh’s nine Championship games this season- but his opportunity came last Saturday when the former Scotland international hobbled off after just 18 minutes.

“It’s been tough and frustrating; it’s been a bit of a patience game,” said Thomas. “But it was good to get some pitch time and thankfully it went well.

“Gordon’s been playing really well at ten and Errie’s (Claassens) been playing really well at full back, so it’s all about waiting for your chance and if you get an opportunity you have to try and take it.

“When you’re on the bench you’ve just got to prepare as if you were starting and try and keep switched on at all times as you never know what can happen.”

With competition in the Welsh backs fierce, Thomas wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by and he soon made his presence felt, spotting acres of space behind the Bristol defence and collecting Nick Runciman’s chip over the top to touch down.

“I saw there was no one behind and I called to Runci (Nick Runicman) to kick it over and he’d spotted it a well. He put a great kick in and luckily enough it bounced perfect for me,” said Thomas, who is in his third season at Old Deer Park after joining from Newport Gwent Dragons.

That helped give the Exiles an 18-9 half-time lead, but having battered away at the Bristol line for ten minutes at the start of the second half without reward, the visitor’s hit back with a try from captain Iain Grieve after Welsh prop Shawn Pittman was yellow carded.

But with the result in the balance, Thomas charged down Nick Little’s attempted clearance and scampered over to turn the game decisively in the home side’s favour. That opened the floodgates with Marland Yarde – on loan from London Irish – scoring with his first touch for Welsh and Liam Gibson claiming his sixth try of the season.

“Another lucky bounce; I just gambled on the charge down. You’re always trying to get to the kicker and luckily enough I got the charge down and the ball bounced straight into my hands again. We never looked back from there, scoring two cracking tries after that,” added Thomas.

“It was clinical performance against a good team – I don’t think the league table does them justice because they’re a tough physical side, so to get five tries against them is really good.”

While biding his time, Thomas has had the benefit of the club’s blossoming relationship with London Irish – playing in four Monday night A League matches for the Aviva Premiership club.

“It’s been really good to help keep my match sharpness up, so when an opportunity does arrive you’re in the best frame of mind to do as well as you possibly can,” said Thomas, who played against Harlequins and Gloucester at full back and Bath and Saracens at fly half.

The Exiles now face Bedford Blues on Friday night (7:45pm) at Goldington Road in front of the Sky Sports cameras – the Exiles’ first live televised match since their semi-final defeat to Bristol.

Head coach Phil Greening, though, is not getting carried away by his side’s good start to the season, which saw Welsh move to within three points of Championship leaders Worcester following the Warriors’ home defeat to Cornish Pirates.

“It was a good win (v Bristol) but we spoke at half-time that we didn’t live up to our own e

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