Gallery: Welwyn suffer league derby defeat to St Albans
PUBLISHED: 09:30 07 October 2011
IN temperatures hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Welwyn fell to a derby defeat against St Albans on Saturday.
Welwyn began well with their forwards winning good possession from scrums, lineouts and the tackle area. Their backs handled confidently, moving play from one side of the field to the other.
Camped inside their own half, St Albans were conceding penalties regularly as they tried to get into the game.
Two of these were within range of the posts and Mark Cullen was successful with his kicks, taking his side into a six point lead after 15 minutes.
The home team’s domination was not to last.
St Albans started to get some possession especially after tackles were made and the ball was ripped from the hands of the Welwyn ball carrier.
Welwyn were now finding it difficult to contain their opponents once the ball was moved into the open spaces.
Charlie Aldridge was outstanding in his tackling and covering but gaps were now appearing in Welwyn’s midfield which St Albans’ very good centres were able to exploit.
After sustained pressure St Albans scored a try in the corner, an outstanding effort by their scrum half who side-stepped his way through a number of attempted tackles.
The conversion attempt failed so Welwyn still led by six points to five. But this was not to last for more than a few minutes.
From the halfway line, backs and forwards combined in a handling movement ending with second row John Sayers dotting the ball down under the posts.
The easy conversion gave the visitors a 12-6 lead which three minutes later was further extended when more direct running and intelligent support for the ball carrier ended in another try.
St Albans were now clearly dominating the exchanges, having scored three tries in under 10 minutes and they found time to squeeze in another try before half-time.
This one again came from a Welwyn turnover, with the ball transferred to mid-field where the St Albans three quarters were quicker and better organised than their opponents.
The conversion was successful taking the score to 24-9.
Just before half-time Owen Hopley, Welwyn’s tireless back row forward was late tackled and Mark Cullen kicked the resulting penalty to narrow the lead a little.
The second half started with Welwyn on the attack. Jovan Masalunga made a good break but lacked support when he was tackled within sight of the try line.
But it was St Albans who got the first points with a penalty kicked from 35 metres out.
Welwyn were now slowly recovering from that disastrous second quarter of the game.
Kyle Birkin was close to scoring but was held up just short of the try line.
Immediately after, Welwyn got their first try with Cullen’s excellent long flat pass, putting Masalunga through a gap for him to muscle his way over.
The conversion attempt failed so the score was 27-14 in St Albans’ favour.
The hard ground was taking its toll. Both Welwyn’s wings, Ben Ofori and Aldridge, had to go off with injuries.
Two of the three substitutes had already been used so Welwyn had to play with 14 men for the remaining 20 minutes.
This disadvantage was soon offset with a St Albans player being shown a yellow card.
Once again Welwyn lost the ball in the contact area giving St Albans the opportunity to use their very capable three-quarters to score their fifth and last try.
With a few minutes left, Welwyn launched a final attack with hard-working captain Rob Picken getting a try - an effort which helped him to get the man of the match award and cut the margin of defeat to 13 points.
Welwyn will have gained little consolation from scoring more points than their opponents in the second half.
But the try count was 5-2 against so their defence needs to be tightened before Saturday’s away game at Chiswick in London 2 North West.
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