Welwyn triumph in derby with Datchworth

PUBLISHED: 16:34 30 October 2012

Welwyn double up on a Datchworth player

Welwyn double up on a Datchworth player

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WELWYN claimed the bragging rights with a hard-fought 18-12 victory against near-neighbours Datchworth on Saturday.

Having won their first four league games confidence is building at Welwyn Rugby Club.

Two difficult seasons have resulted in barely as many wins in total so a return to winning ways is most welcome for players and supporters alike.

Last week’s convincing performance against a normally strong Imperial Medicals was impressive and this game looked to be an opportunity to build upon the driving, positive game that new coaching staff of James Coles, Dean Miller and Mike McKay seem to be instilling into the players.

However, nobody told Datchworth about the gameplan and they certainly had something to say about the end result.

On a day when winter sent its first chills handling was difficult for both sides. Sunny spells with intermittent rain showers made the ball slippery and a number of handling errors made for a scrappy game which was always going to be a close local derby.

Welwyn made a positive start scoring a penalty through full-back Owen Doyle and driving play by Rory Page and clean handling led to young prop Josh Hewitt storming over for an early unconverted try on the Welwyn right hand wing.

One of the new developments this season in the game is rolling replacements allowing players to be substituted during the match. This makes for interesting times in terms of who is playing where on the pitch and while the referee is able to keep a tab on how many changes are made it should be a positive development in the rules.

Certainly Welwyn seem to have worked out when to make changes to allow individuals to rest and keep those on the subs bench keen.

Their subs, Joe Brace, James Coles and Pat Lynch all made valuable contributions to the team effort.

A yellow card for Datchworth’s Moss midway through the first half didn’t help their cause but it has to be said that they were at this stage emerging as the team most likely to score.

Following a high kick into the Welwyn half what should have been a simple catch and pass proceeded to confound the backs who omitted to tell each-other who was going to catch it. The visiting winger made the most of the opportunity and raced away to score in the left corner. Conversion of the try was missed making the score 8-5.

Strong disruptive scrummaging from the visitors and inconsistent throwing in at the line-out compounded to give too much possession away and but for solid defence Welwyn could have easily been going into half-time with a deficit.

Datchworth had certainly not come to make up the numbers and solid drives up the middle tested the Welwyn defence throughout the game.

The home back row of Rob Picken, Owen Hopley and Dave Cook tackled manfully to prevent further scores.

Datchworth obviously benefited from ‘insider’ knowledge probably given by Andy Riley, who last season was Welwyn’s coach and is now Datchworth’s forwards advisor.

An example is the way they consistently jumped on Rob Picken in large numbers to prevent him making his usual amazing driving runs. A further comedy of errors led to a converted try for the Datchworth left winger just before half-time making the score 12-8 to the visitors.

The second half proved to be a dour affair. A typical local derby, no quarters given played in a hard but largely clean manner. Deft passing and kicking by the Datchworth half backs continued to keep Welwyn on the back foot and despite positive play by the Welwyn backs further scoring looked increasingly unlikely.

Keen tackling by Scott Clewlow and Kyle Birkin in the centre and solid play at full back by Owen Doyle kept much of the play in the central area of the pitch. Dave Cook was awarded the Welwyn Man of the Match for seeming to be everywhere and is proving to be a great asset to the clubs cause this season.

James Coles entered the game during the second half and also showed that he is a good tactical substitute who adds momentum to the attack and clears up a tremendous amount of loose ball.

What seemed to be an endless procession of scrums and penalties ensued for both sides. Owen Doyle slotted a long penalty attempt to make the score 12-11 to Datchworth. Welwyn fly-half Gareth Hughes was yellow carded for inappropriate behaviour which drove the referee to reverse a penalty that he had originally awarded to Welwyn.

A period of good Welwyn pressure ensued with good driving play from the forwards. Second rowers Tom Attfield and Joe Burns added their weight to a variety of drives leading to the decisive try being scored by Rory Page. The try was converted by Owen Doyle making the score 18-12 and that’s how it finished.

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