Welwyn beat Datchworth 18-13 in a pulsating local derby in front of a good crowd in perfect conditions.

A much-changed Welwyn side saw new signing Will Latham slot into the fly-half position and acquit himself admirably, as Christian Salisbury made his first-team debut off the bench to replace injured hooker Ryan Saunders at half time.

Welwyn started well down a slight slope and took the lead on 12 minutes when a well-rehearsed line-out catch and drive resulted in veteran prop Will Freeston touching down.

Latham added the conversion and on 28 minutes a carbon-copy try from another line-out, again scored by Freeston, extended the lead to 12-0.

To their credit, Datchworth responded well and dominated the last 10 minutes of the first half and only an excellent defensive team effort from the visitors allowed them to take their hard-earned lead into the break.

Six minutes into the second half, Datchworth scored the try of the match as Stuart Young ran a great line to open up the Welwyn defence and reduce the deficit to 12-5.

Latham and James Watt exchanged penalties to leave Welwyn 15-8 up but with 20 minutes left scrum-half Yourgos Alexander was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on and Welwyn had to call on all of their defensive nous to keep the hosts at bay.

They managed to survive the 10-minute sin-bin period and, as Alexander rejoined the fray, extended their lead to 18-8 with another well-struck penalty by Latham.

With 15 minutes left, Alexander was adjudged to have made a dangerous tackle and the referee had no hesitation in showing him a red card.

This prompted a nail-biting final few minutes for the travelling Welwyn faithful, made worse when Datchworth went over from a well worked line-out move to narrow the gap to 18-13 with five minutes to go.

However, Welwyn managed to run down the clock and return home with four points, climbing to fifth place in Counties One Herts/Middx.

“I couldn’t be prouder. The boys knew how much this game meant to us and they delivered the best performance of the season by far," said head coach Gareth Hughes.

"I thought Will Latham controlled the game well at 10 and our captain Josh Milton was excellent, along with the evergreen Will Freeston.

"We go again next week in what is one of the biggest days in our calendar - the Former Players Lunch – when we host Hampstead at Hobbs Way with kick-off at 3pm.”