Skipper Rob is Pick of the Welwyn bunch
PUBLISHED: 10:29 25 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:35 25 October 2012
WELWYN skipper Rob Picken led from the front by scoring a hat-trick of tries in a convincing victory at Imperial Medicals on Saturday.
Welwyn travelled to Teddington for this match in an optimistic frame of mind, but knowing that Imperial Medicals on their own ground can often be a difficult fixture.
The match was played on an immaculate pitch with no wind to worry the kickers, but some autumnal dew on the ground made handling a little tricky.
Yet early nerves were soon dispersed as Welwyn won the ball back from their own kick-off and immediately put together eight phases of possession before being rewarded with an early penalty. The ball fell just short, but Welwyn were soon back on the attack and a simpler penalty was then converted by Pat Lynch to give Welwyn a deserved 3-0 lead.
Soon afterwards, hooker Rory Page took a ball against the head and skipper Rob Picken picked the ball up quickly and burst through two tackles to score close to the posts. Lynch added the extras despite the ball falling off the tee and Welwyn were ahead 10-0.
Welwyn kicked away possession twice in the first half and the impressive Imperial Medicals full-back took full advantage and was only kept out by last ditch tackles close to the line. The lesson was well learned, and Welwyn played the remainder of the game without kicking the ball in open play.
To play this type of game requires good fitness and control of the ball, both of which Welwyn managed very well. The Medics were forced onto the back foot time and time again as Welwyn went through the phases, much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
The pressure told after 20 minutes. Lynch made a good break down the middle of the field and the ball was quickly recycled and moved right for Owen Doyle to score in the corner.
Medics missed an easy penalty and Welwyn responded with another well worked overlap which allowed Scott Clewlow to race over from 45 metres.
Welwyn led by 20-0 after 25 minutes and went in search of a bonus point try before half-time.
Both sides then traded penalty goals and, from the kick off, good ground was made back into the Medics’ territory by the impressive Josh Hewitt and the consistently destructive Picken. Lynch drilled the ball into the corner from a penalty and a well-rehearsed catch and drive from the lineout resulted in a touch down for captain Picken.
Welwyn had reached their objective of a bonus point try before half time and led by 28-3 at the break.
After the interval it was business as usual for Welwyn as Medics were forced to defend for long periods of the game.
The visitors were in control of the game and scored four further tries in the second half. Picken completed his hat-trick, Adam Cunnah proved too quick for the defence and scored in the corner, before Yourgos Alexander scored the game’s outstanding individual try.
A crunching tackle by Owen Hopley secured possession in the middle of the field and Alexander kicked ahead from 50 metres out and won the race to touch down near the posts. Doyle converted.
In the closing minutes, Joe Brace scored from his preferred distance of just under a metre to complete the scoring.
Coaches James Coles, Dene Miller and Mike McKay used the bench intelligently taking full advantage of the new rolling substitutions law introduced this season. Dave Cooke, Cunnah and Coles himself all got good game time. Eighteen-year-old Josh Hewitt showed his versatility by playing in the back row before filling in at both loose head and tight-head prop.
There were many positives to take out of this outstanding win. Centre Peter Elliott, making his 100th first team appearance, consistently got over the gain line to give his forwards a target going forward and the Welwyn lineout, superbly marshalled by Owen Hopley, was solid all afternoon.
The Welwyn scrummaging got stronger as the game went on, but the highlight was Welwyn’s play in the loose, retaining possession and asking questions of the home side’s defence.
This weekend Welwyn play host to Datchworth, in what promises to be a keenly contested fixture at Hobbs Way.