Kemp's last-gasp kick keeps Welwyn alive in race for survival
PUBLISHED: 11:23 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:23 24 February 2017
Chris Kemp's last-gasp conversion grabbed what could be three vital points in second-bottom Welwyn's fight for survival as they drew 28-28 at fellow strugglers London Nigerian.
The Hobbs Way side travelled to London knowing a defeat to the side directly above them would make it difficult in their fight against the drop.
Welwyn kicked off and began to use their big runners effectively but it was the home side who were first on the board with some hard carries in the away 22.
The referee gave Nigerian a penalty 10 metres out and with the Welwyn players turning their backs on play the hosts’ nine ran in unopposed.
They added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Welwyn continued to attack but again turnover ball cost them dearly.
On 20 minutes Nigerian had a lineout just outside the Welwyn 22 oand the ball eventually found the seven who proceeded to evade five Welwyn attempted tackles to score under the posts for 14-0.
Welwyn knew they had to score next and they did with a superb try.
Good interplay between backs and forwards led to multiple phases and captain Phil Grehan made a break but was tackled just short of the line.
A fantastic overhead pass to Robert Picken allowed him space and he scored to the left of the posts. The conversion was notched by Harry Di-Lieto.
Welwyn continued to play in the wrong areas of the pitch and turnover ball again cost them.
One such penalty led to a Nigerian line-out 10m out from Welwyn’s try-line.
Michael Hopkins had replaced Cam Patey at prop and with the the Nigerian line-out rampaging towards the try-line the referee adjudged that Hopkins had collapsed the maul resulting in a penalty try and a yellow card.
Welwyn knew they had to put everything into the next 40 minutes to salvage their season.
Ollie Di-Lieto replaced Joe Burns in the second row and Kemp replaced TJ Le Baigue at full-back.
Welwyn scrapped and tackled their hearts out with William Freeston making his 150th first-team appearance to the fore.
Ten minutes into the second half, Welwyn drove a line-out and rumbled to midfield just outside the Nigerian 22.
With the Nigerian players asking the referee to stop the game to attend to an injured player Adam Harcourt, who was excellent throughout, took a quick penalty and scored to the right of the posts with Kemp making the conversion for 21-14.
Again Welwyn let the opposition into the game by making silly mistakes from the kick-off.
Nigerians were rumbling forward and with a four-man overlap Liam Schofield went for the high-risk play.
This paid off with a terrific run and try under the posts 10 minutes from the end.
Welwyn had the opportunity to put the game to bed with a four-man overlap but the wrong option was taken and the chance squandered.
Nigerian broke down the blind-side and numerous pick and go’s later scored to the left of the posts a difficult conversion made it 28-21 with four minutes to go.
Welwyn have character and showed this in bucket loads from the kick-off as they won the ball and gained a penalty just outside the Nigerian 22m.
From the five-metre line-out the referee adjudged the home team had collapsed the maul but only gave a penalty.
With Cam Patey back on the field the away team chose a scrum.
Nigerian held the shove and Welwyn spread the ball wide to the right.
The ball was shipped back to the middle for Freeston to set up a ruck under the posts with quick ball to Grehan and a long pass to Josh Milton to score to the left of the posts between the 15m and 5m line.
Amid the celebration realisation that a difficult conversion was required. Up stepped Kemp to slot the ball between the posts to snatch the draw.
Welwyn are back in action on March 4 when they host Harpenden.