LONDON WELSH secured their highest finish in five years with a 31-18 win at Cornish Pirates.

Saturday's victory meant they finished the season seventh in National One - not bettered since they ended the season fifth in 2002-03.

But victory looked a long way off in the opening few minutes in Cornwall, where Welsh conceded two tries in the first three minutes. But they hit back through touchdowns from Aaron Liffchak, Paul Sampson, Simon Etheredge and Noah Cato to secure a bonus point and a 15-point lead at the break. Welsh were again slow off the mark after the interval, conceding a try within the first two minutes to bring Pirates back into contention.

But Welsh held on and a penalty from Matt Jones, who converted all four first-half tries, saw them home. Meanwhile, ex-England wing Paul Sampson and Fiji internationals Wame Lewaravu and Sunia Koto Vuli have signed contract extensions. Sampson missed just one game this season and top scored with 11 tries, while the Fijian pair are preparing to fly home to prepare for the Pacific Six Nations in July.

Welsh chief executive Peter Thomas said: "Paul is still one of the best finishers in the game, and he's shown that this season, while Wame and Sunia have been outstanding for us since their arrival."

* Staines' hopes of an instant return to London League One were dashed when they lost their London League Two play-off 15-0 to Jersey on Saturday.