Welwyn earn credit but just fall short of Hampstead win in pulsating year end battle
PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 April 2019
Welwyn and Hampstead served up a final-day cracker but it was the Londoners who took the honours with a narrow 43-39 win.
It was an outstanding contest, played in a good spirit and a credit to both sides.
It also saw a total of 12 tries with Welwyn bagging five of them courtesy of Vetaia Kawea, who got two, Ollie Di-Lietto, Jack Lacey and Phil Grehan.
Chris Kemp landed 14 points with the boot.
Welwyn president Mark Elliott said: “Neither club was prepared to settle for an easy end of season fixture and the game was in the balance right up to the final seconds.
“We should be proud of our efforts over the whole season, which were epitomised in the refusal to give up until the final whistle on Saturday.”
Welwyn got off to a flying start and with the wind and slope in their favour, they got to half-time 26-10 to the good.
The opening score came after just three minutes when Kawea stepped through three attempted tackles and although stand-in skipper Adam Harcourt had to leave the field with injury, the Hobbs Way-based rugby club bagged another try when impressive flanker Tom Emery carried the ball well into contact and Kawea side-stepped his way to another score.
Try number three was down to the work of James Tan, Yourgos Alexander and Grehan giving Di-Lieto the score and the bonus point was wrapped up on 32 minutes by winger Lacey.
But a yellow card for Alexander early in the second half for a dangerous tackle turned the game on its head and Hampstead took full advantage with three tries.
Two penalties from Kemp kept Welwyn ahead, albeit by just 32-31, but the hosts weren’t done and two further tries gave them an 11-point buffer.
To their credit, though, Welwyn threw everything at Hampstead in the last five minutes and very nearly snatched an unlikely win.
Two penalties in front of the posts were ran and eventually Grehan eased through a gap to score under the posts and with seconds left on the clock there was time for one more Welwyn attack.
Great continuity saw them get to within 10 metres of the Hampstead line but a knock-on signalled the end of a pulsating match.
Welwyn finish the London Two North West season in sixth, a fine effort considering last year’s promotion.