Welwyn boost own confidence as they give London Welsh a mighty scare
PUBLISHED: 08:33 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:33 16 September 2019
Welwyn almost pulled off a sensational come-from-behind win to start the new rugby season but there was still plenty to proud of even after the 32-29 loss at home to London Welsh.
Trailing 22-0 at half-time and 32-17 with just five minutes to go, the Hobbs Way club showed resilience in spades and Welsh, the pre-season London Two North West title favourites, were mightily relieved to hear the final whistle.
Welwyn also picked up two bonus points in the defeat and will carry a huge amount of confidence into Saturday's trip to Grasshoppers.
They handed a debut to Dan Meade from the bench and there was also a historic 300th first-team appearance for Rob Picken.
The opening 40 minutes, however, gave no indication of what was to follow as the well-supported visitors roared into a half-time lead courtesy of three tries, two converted, and one penalty.
Welwyn weren't helped by a yellow card to centre Vetaia Kawea, awarded for retaliation, with 15 points coming in this 10-minute period alone.
But whatever was said at half-time by coaches Gareth Hughes, James Coles and Ian Ewin certainly did the trick and with a full complement of players, Welwyn started to claw their way back into the game.
Brad Lack finished off a sweeping movement five minutes into the second period, converted by Chris Kemp, and 10 minutes later Phil Grehan put hooker and man of the match James Tan into space and he scored under the posts.
This time the conversion was charged down and Welwyn suffered another blow when Lack was forced off with a dislocated shoulder following an awkward collision with the hard ground.
The lull brought Welsh two more tries but second-row Anton Denton kept Welwyn interested with another unconverted score.
It still looked like the visitors would cruise to a comfortable win but any hopes of a relaxed final five minutes were blown out of the water first by Josh Milton and then Aaron Chandler.
That strong finish is testament to the hard work done on fitness during the close season and while it didn't bring a winning try, it does bode well for the rest of the year.