Welwyn march on to Tankard final

PUBLISHED: 16:44 30 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:46 30 April 2013

Rob Picken breaks clear for Welwyn

Rob Picken breaks clear for Welwyn

Archant

WELWYN booked their place in the final of the Herts RFU President’s Tankard with a 26-18 triumph over Hitchin.

Having racked up 57 points with just seven against in their two league wins over Hitchin, Welwyn were understandably confident of another victory.

This would take them to the final of this cup competition, a tournament which they won in the 2010/11 season.

Forwards Josh Hewitt, Dave Cook and Dave Wells were absentees but otherwise Welwyn were close to full strength.

The pitch was flat and firm but with heavy showers and a strong wind throughout the game playing conditions were difficult. The weather was a major influence from the start.

Using the wind sensibly Hitchin were able to keep Welwyn penned inside their own 22 for long periods.

They were aggressive and effective in the tackle/breakdown area and prepared to move the ball wide to give their three-quarters a chance.

Welwyn were penalised and Peachey kicked the points.

Minutes later he was just wide with a drop goal attempt.

But Hitchin did not have the cutting edge in attack and they were unable to build up a score which this period of dominance should have given them.

Twenty minutes into the game Welwyn finally broke out of their own half.

Rory Page won a strike against the head. The forwards, as a unit, became more effective in rucks and mauls.

Owen Hopley was guaranteeing clean possession from the line out and Rob Picken, aided by Hopley, made yards of ground from charging runs.

Suddenly, Welwyn were on top. From a scrum, outside half Gareth Hughes passed the ball back inside to Picken who went over for a try. Pat Lynch converted.

A poor clearing kick by Hitchin was gathered by full back Owen Doyle.

He ran the ball back at a non-existing midfield defence before handing over to Page who scored near the posts.

Lynch converted and Welwyn were 14-3 up at half-time.

With the wind now behind them Welwyn continued to dominate.

A little more space would have seen wing Muzzy Harinath go round his opposite number after a width of the field passing movement.

Scrum half Yourgos Alexander was almost over after taking a quick tap penalty.

Following a good run by Harinath a ruck was formed near the posts.

Joe McKay picked up and forced his way over for a try. Lynch then kicked his third conversion.

At this point Welwyn looked set to overwhelm their opponents.

Ball carriers were running clever lines, taking on potential tacklers before off-loading to supportive players.

Tries seemed inevitable. Then Welwyn were given two yellow cards - Alexander for a high tackle and Hughes for an unidentified offence.

A 13-man Welwyn team looked vulnerable as Hitchin, although 21-3 down, sensed an opportunity.

Peachey kicked another penalty and a powerful series of scrums close to Welwyn’s line ended in a try, which was not converted to make the score 21-11.

With Alexander and Hughes having served their sentences Welwyn regained their poise.

McKay scored his second try after a combined forwards’ effort.

Lynch failed with the difficult conversion but with just minutes remaining the final Welwyn try sealed the result.

They relaxed a little allowing Hitchin a last flourish, McInty barging his way over for a try which Peachey converted seconds before the final whistle was blown.

The final against Tabard will be played at Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) RFC on Sunday (May 5) kick-off at 11.30am.


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