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Jones praise for 'influential' Henson

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones hailed the performance of debutant Gavin Henson despite seeing his side slip to a bonus-point defeat at home to Saracens.

Wales double Grand Slam winner Henson, handed what he admits is a "final chance" to resurrect his career, kicked 13 points on his delayed first appearance for the Exiles after fracturing his cheekbone in a pre-season match against former club Scarlets.

Saracens held on for a 28-23 win, and Jones, who rested veteran former Scotland fly-half Gordon Ross to make way for Henson, said: "I thought for his first game back in God knows how long, his performance was very good. He was hugely influential. Gordon has been brilliant for us all season and he really deserved a rest."

Jones admitted his promoted side were fortunate to gain a consolation point as Saracens managed just one try despite enjoying the lion's share of possession.

"To play as badly as we did and come away with a losing bonus point is a plus," he said. "Saracens are a quality side and they played very well today."

Henson kicked three penalties and converted tries by Phil MacKenzie and Tom Arscott before Welsh forced Saracens to survive a torrid final few minutes. Jones was pleased with his team's spirit, enthusiasm and willingness to attack from deep but he said: "The next aim is to be more accurate."

But he was less than happy that referee Luke Pearce blew the final whistle with his pack pressurising the Saracens forwards, who had conceded three penalties in a row, as they tried to force a way through - or a penalty try.

The official ended the match when the set-piece went down again but Jones added: "I didn't think it was right to finish the game on an incomplete scrum. We had seven reds going forward and one was taken to the floor."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall had nothing but praise for Charlie Hodgson, who scored all of his side's 28 points.

He said: "Charlie was great today. Charlie and Owen combined well."


From Belfast Telegraph