Welwyn move out of drop zone after win

PUBLISHED: 11:51 29 January 2008 | UPDATED: 22:16 26 October 2009

VICTORY at Woodford on Saturday lifted Welwyn out of the bottom two in the league for the first time this season. They are now fourth from the foot of the table and have a huge game on Saturday when third bottom London Nigerian pay a visit for a real rele

VICTORY at Woodford on Saturday lifted Welwyn out of the bottom two in the league for the first time this season.

They are now fourth from the foot of the table and have a huge game on Saturday when third bottom London Nigerian pay a visit for a real relegation tussle.

Tries from Jon Child and Frankie Sutherland, plus five points from the boot of Gareth Hughes, gave Welwyn a vital 15-10 win at Woodford.

Welwyn visited East London hoping to do the league double over their rivals and succeeded.

Injuries meant key players were not available, giving Jacques Naude a chance to demonstrate his skills as hooker and a debut for Nick Brown at centre.

The game was unusual in that there was a female referee, probably a first for Welwyn's 1st XV.

Welwyn kicked off but their hosts stormed into an early lead when their outside centre scored to the left of the posts.

As the outside half went to kick the conversion the ball dropped off the kicking tee, but he was quick-witted enough to pick it up and drop-kick the conversion.

The referee regularly penalised both sides throughout the game for technical offences in rucks.

There then followed a period of scrappy play with both sides being penalised.

Welwyn gradually made ground with good drives by William Freeston and Naude and aided by a penalty for a high tackle on Child.

Soon after the ensuing lineout, Woodford were penalised again to the right of their posts for not rolling away at the tackle.

Outside half Hughes slotted over the penalty to reduce the arrears to 7-3.

Welwyn continued to press and a good kick into the corner on their right forced the home team to put the ball into touch on their 22.

The side from Herts then drove the ball forward and moved it to their left where Hughes put in a neat chip over the defending backs.

Full-back Child sprinted up to touch down out on the left.

Hughes narrowly missed the conversion but the visitors were 8-7 up at the interval.

Soon after the start of the second half wing Luke Williams had to come off with a leg injury and was replaced by Alex Cross.

Welwyn No8 Andrew Hawkins then had to leave the field with a blood injury and Steve Gardner temporarily took his place.

The visitors increased their lead with their second try of the match.

Hughes drove forward and, when tackled, quickly made the ball available. This allowed Child to make a decisive break down the touchline almost to the try-line.

He was then tackled but slipped the ball inside to winger Sutherland, who sprinted over the line unopposed to score.

Hughes converted to put his side 15-7 ahead.

Woodford responded well to this setback and forced the ball up field.

The Woodford forwards then set up a series of driving mauls that took the ball over the Welwyn try line on three occasions in quick succession. However, the Welwyn forwards defended magnificently and on each occasion prevented the home team from grounding the ball.

Welwyn winger Alex Cross injured himself in a tackle and left the field with what turned out to be a broken collarbone.

Josh Libberton came on for his league debut for the senior side in his place.

The continued Woodford pressure eventually told and a handling error gave the home team a penalty to the left of the posts that was converted to reduce the Welwyn lead to 15-10.

Woodford continued to press to try to draw level but the Welwyn defence held them at bay with all the team doing their part and putting their bodies on the line to stop the attacks.

Welwyn skipper Owen Hopley then had to leave the field temporarily with a split eyebrow.

While moving away from a Woodford rolling maul, the referee badly twisted her ankle and required treatment for about five minutes before she could continue.

The series of injuries in the game meant 15 minutes of added time were played at the end but Welwyn held on for the win.

Welwyn walked off the field as winners of a hard-fought game to the generous applause of both sets of spectators.

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