Grasshoppers spring clear at top as wayward kicks see Welwyn fall to home defeat

PUBLISHED: 07:15 31 January 2018

Gillespie races clear to score for Welwyn against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo

Gillespie races clear to score for Welwyn against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2018

Welwyn fell to their first home defeat of the season as leaders Grasshoppers took a major step forward in the London North West Three title race.

Gillespie crosses the touchline to score for Welwyn against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo Gillespie crosses the touchline to score for Welwyn against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo

Despite outscoring their opponents three tries to two the Hobbs Way-based club went down 21-18 and now find themselves seven points adrift of their Isleworth rivals.

Atkinson dives in to tackle Grasshoppers number 15. Picture: Danny Loo Atkinson dives in to tackle Grasshoppers number 15. Picture: Danny Loo

It was an enthralling game as was expected between the top two in the division, played at a high tempo throughout.

Gillespie is tackled by a Grasshoppers player. Picture: Danny Loo Gillespie is tackled by a Grasshoppers player. Picture: Danny Loo

Welwyn scored early with the opening try as Ollie Di-Lieto broke to the blindside after a scrum and linked with scrum half Yourgos Alexander before winger Adam Harcourt took it on.

Atkinson and Picken combine to stop a Grasshoppers attack. Picture: Danny Loo Atkinson and Picken combine to stop a Grasshoppers attack. Picture: Danny Loo

He was stopped short of the line but Ash Dobney swiftly followed up and powered over.

The Welwyn defence holds strong against a Grasshoppers attack. Picture: Danny Loo The Welwyn defence holds strong against a Grasshoppers attack. Picture: Danny Loo

It went unconverted, a trait that would haunt Welwyn by the end.

Welwyn and Grasshoppers compete in a line out. Picture: Danny Loo Welwyn and Grasshoppers compete in a line out. Picture: Danny Loo

Grasshoppers immediately struck back with a penalty after Welwyn were caught offside, and for the next 10 minutes both sides sought to put width on the ball with attack and counter-attack.

Osgood congratulates Gillespie on his score against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo Osgood congratulates Gillespie on his score against Grasshoppers. Picture: Danny Loo

Eventually the visitors won another penalty and the kick sailed over from 35 metres put them in front.

Welwyn and Grasshoppers scrums face each other. Picture: Danny Loo Welwyn and Grasshoppers scrums face each other. Picture: Danny Loo

However, a superb individual try by Harry Gillespie, weaving his way through the defence, gave Welwyn the half-time lead, but again the conversion was missed.

Immediately from the restart Welwyn were penalised in front of their own posts and the accurate boot of Gilmore brought Grasshoppers to within a point.

And the visitors took the lead with their first try of the game.

Annoyingly for the hosts it started with a steal at one of their own line-outs and after good forward play, the ball was passed out along the line for the score.

The conversion hit the post but Hoppers still led 14-10 until Rory Harcourt landed a penalty for Welwyn and with the next score crucial the match ebbed and flowed between the two 22m lines.

Welwyn had three shots at goal but all were off target and Grasshoppers made them pay with a try in the corner, which was duly converted.

However, Will Freeston made sure Welwyn would at least get a losing bonus point with another unconverted try.

They travel to Stevenage Town on Saturday, with the north Herts side now just one point behind.

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