Welwyn RFC on the brink of promotion
PUBLISHED: 09:41 10 April 2015
As the final whistle sounded with Phil Grehan bounding over the worn-out whitewash for Welwyn's 15th try of the afternoon, they knew that half the job was done. In truth, the job had been half completed midway through the opening period, with the Stevenage XV showing the rigidity of a jellyfish in every department.
Prior to this 91-0 derby obliteration 11 days ago, the Hobbs Way outfit were fully aware that two bonus point wins would be enough to claim London 3NW promotion ahead of closest rivals Belsize Park.
Now just one bonus-point win from glory, Welwyn travel to already-relegated Old Streetonians this Saturday, but despite his side’s recent success, coach Ian Matthews feels his evolving side are punching below their weight.
Speaking after the Stevenage win, Matthews told the WHT: “In my honest opinion, we should be two divisions higher than where we are right now.
“We have a strong nucleus here and the quality we have within the squad is there for all to see so I don’t think it is too bold a statement to say we could compete at a much higher level.”
For now though, Welwyn will have to be content with promotion to London 2NW.
A nigh-perfect start to the season, with just one defeat at rivals Datchworth, until their mini-crisis of four defeats in five games over Christmas and New Year, gave them a solid basis.
However, Matthews believes it has been the New Year turnaround that has been the most pivotal phase of the season.
Since losing convincingly at champions-elect Fullerians at the end of January, they have racked up 365 points in seven straight league wins and also booked their place in the Herts Tankard Final against Stevenage Town at Saracens’ Allianz Park on April 26.
He continued: “We had a great start to the season but we suffered over Christmas with some of the boys’ fitness not being at a level that we would have liked. We have come through that now though and our true quality has shone through.
“To use a footballing cliche ‘the medals and trophies aren’t handed out in December, they are awarded in April and May’ and we knew that a good run would give us a great chance of going up and so it has proved.
“During January we were still re-discovering our good form from earlier in the year and in the midst of a bit of a learning process and we stand on the brink of a great achievement.”
Welwyn put 55 points past Old Streetonians in the reverse fixture way back on the opening day of the season, but complacency is not on Matthews’ agenda.
He said: “Yes, they have been relegated already and yes, they have been hammered by everyone and won just one game all year but they will be up for it, with the chance to stop us getting promoted.
“The chance to make themselves famous despite having been relegated will spur them on no doubt so we will take nothing for granted.
“In my eyes it is just a normal game of rugby. If we respect the process and play to our full potential, I’m sure we will get our full rewards.”
Belsize Park will hope to gatecrash Welwyn’s promotion party with a bonus-point win at home to Grasshoppers on Saturday. Both games kick-off at 3pm.