Welwyn’s late fightback hints at character that could prove vital in their relegation scrap

PUBLISHED: 17:43 16 January 2020

James Tan was among the try scorers for Welwyn at home to Grasshoppers. Picture: DANNY LOO

James Tan was among the try scorers for Welwyn at home to Grasshoppers. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Archant

A late fightback may not have brought Welwyn a victory but it could still prove to be hugely important come the end of the season.

Trailing 41-14 to Grasshoppers with only 12 minutes left of the London Two North West encounter at Hobbs Way, the hosts could easily have thrown in the towel.

However, they scored 19 unanswered points to snatch a bonus point in a 41-33 loss and could have got one more had a Chris Kemp not been inches off target right at the death.

It leaves Welwyn second from bottom of the division, now five points clear of Luton following their victory over Datchworth, but three points off Hackney and safety.

And it is the Londoners who will provide the opposition for their next game in what could be a pivotal clash.

The Hobbs Way-based rugby club welcomed back prop William Freeston and their scrummaging was undoubtedly stronger in the two spells that he was on the pitch.

The line-out also functioned well with hooker James Tan returning to the side.

And they started very brightly, getting the reward of the opening try when Vetaia Kawea caught the Hoppers defence napping on five minutes.

Kemp converted that one but the visitors were level just five minutes later in similar circumstances. This time it was Jasper Rose who took advantage of a loose ball at a ruck to score out wide.

A good conversion by Jason Lee tied the scores at 7-7 and by half-time they had roared into a 24-14 lead.

Dave Wells crashed over for Welwyn's score after three dominant scrums and they passed up a simple three points in front of the posts for a kick to the corner as the half came to a close.

That unfortunately came to nothing.

Six tries were shared in the second half with Grasshoppers getting the first three of them through Rose, Salle and Hancock.

But Welwyn displayed the type of character that will be sorely needed if they are to avoid relegation this year.

Adam Harcourt, Ollie di-Lieto and Tan got their three tries and Kemp converted the first two before just failing with the third.

Tom Emery was named as man of the match.

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