Welwyn claim win over Enfield in first home league game

PUBLISHED: 11:12 19 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:12 19 September 2016

Rory Harcourt in action for Welwyn

Rory Harcourt in action for Welwyn

Archant

Chris Kemp's last second penalty handed Welwyn a first London Division Two (NW) win of the season in their opening home game.

It was a well-deserved but hard fought first victory after Enfield Ignatians had stunned the home crowd by drawing level late on.

Mike Hopkins and Henry Fee made their home debuts and with the advantage of a stiff breeze in the first half, Welwyn started brightly finding good field position deep into the visitors’ half.

The ball was recycled and, with the defence stretched, prop Will Freeston found space to release hooker Ben Solez to score under the posts.

The try was converted by skipper Phil Grehan to give Welwyn a 7-0 lead after two minutes.

Enfield then missed a tricky shot at goal into the wind leaving Welwyn the opportunity to clear downfield.

Grehan found the smallest of gaps and released Rob Picken who fed Dan Ashcroft who was pulled down 10 metres from the line after a thrilling length of the pitch counter-attack.

Enfield kept possession for a prolonged period, testing Welwyn’s defence that was up to the job.

Welwyn’s set piece performed well with the scrum greatly improved from last week’s season opening 30-0 loss at Belsize Park and Chris Sloan was imperious in the line-out.

Just before half-time, Enfield scored via a driving maul and nearly scored again from the kick-off but their centre was judged to have a foot in touch. From the line-out, Welwyn kicked long and were awarded a scrum about 35 metres out.

Grehan danced through a tiny gap and found Ashcroft via Solez and Carl Lewis and the big centre scored to give Welwyn a 12-5 half-time lead.

TJ Le Baigue replaced Grehan at half-time, who was forced from the field with suspected concussion.

With the touchline still discussing whether Welwyn had done enough with the wind advantage in the first half, they scored another excellent try to take the score to 19-5.

Adam Harcourt worked the blind side and the ball reached Kemp via Freeston and Solez. Kemp scored in the corner and converted his own try.

Enfield were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes for reckless use of the feet in a ruck, but Welwyn were unable to take advantage.

Welwyn declined a shot at goal from a penalty preferring to kick for the corner in search of their fourth try and a bonus point.

Enfield’s defence held out, however, and the pressure was released when Freeston was penalised for offering one piece of advice too many to referee, Ian Cumming.

Coaches James Coles and Gareth Hughes then emptied the Welwyn bench with Joe Burns coming on for his 100th 1st XV appearance and Dan Comben replaced Hopkins.

With 10 minutes remaining, Enfield narrowed the gap with a try in the corner and an excellent conversion brought the score to 19-12.

Lewis was then yellow carded for coming into a maul from the side and Welwyn finished with 14 players.

A loose kick out of defence by Welwyn was returned with interest and a two-man overlap gave winger Muz Herinath no chance and Enfield scored out wide. The conversion tied the scores at 19-19 leading to a nail-biting finish.

Deep into injury time, Welwyn were awarded a penalty nervelessly converted by Kemp to seal the win.

Man of the Match sponsored by The Steamer was won by Ben Solez.

Welwyn travel to Old Haberdashers on Saturday.

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