Welwyn suffer disappointing defeat to Hackney as relegation battle takes a hit

PUBLISHED: 08:24 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:23 21 January 2020

Phil Grehan got Welwyn off to a great start with the opening try at Hackney. Picture: DANNY LOO

Phil Grehan got Welwyn off to a great start with the opening try at Hackney. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Archant

A cracking start in their vital away trip to Hackney was soon forgotten as Welwyn slumped to a 29-12 loss.

The Hobbs Way-based rugby club started the day second from bottom and in the final relegation spot of London Two North West, one place and three points behind their London hosts.

However, they returned with nothing to show for their efforts and the bonus-point success claimed by a well-organised Hackney means Welwyn are now eight points from safety with nine games to go.

The set-piece scrums went without a hitch and brought a pushover try in the second period but it was in the line-out where they struggled, Hackney utilising three very tall forwards to secure plenty of possession.

The game was switched to Hackney Marshes at short notice as Hackney's own pitch at Lee Valley Park was unplayable after days of heavy rain.

But the exceptional drainage found at the marshes allowed the contest to kick-off in near perfect conditions and the visitors took full advantage of the good early going.

They took the lead after 12 minutes of ply, fly-half Phil Grehan racing down the left touchline to score from 30 metres out.

The conversion was missed though and five minutes later, a kick was charged down to give Hackney possession and they retained the ball well to score under the posts, allowing for the easy conversion.

That was how it remained until the second half where again Welwyn started the better of the two teams.

This time though there was to be no all-important score and the solid defence of the home side was rewarded by two tries within three minutes of each other that effectively decided the match.

Both came from accurate back play and one successful conversion put Hackney into a very useful 19-5 lead.

Welwyn were still determined to have a say in proceedings and pressure on the Hackney line resulted in two scrums in succession from five metres out.

It was from the second of these that number eight Dave Wells dotted down after the pack had rumbled over the line and Chris Kemp's conversion put Welwyn back within striking distance.

But Hackney were able to swing the momentum back their way and another converted try, this one bringing the bonus point, plus a penalty in front of the posts sent Welwyn home pointless and disappointed.

There is still plenty of rugby to be played though starting on Saturday with a difficult home game against Hampstead.

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