Thrilling clash with Hemel but loss heaps importance on Luton trip for Welwyn

Yourgos Alexander got Welwyns bonus-point try against Hemel Hempstead. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Yourgos Alexander got Welwyns bonus-point try against Hemel Hempstead. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

A four-try bonus-point in a 33-24 loss at home to Hemel Hempstead was consolation if nothing else for Welwyn as they get ready for a pivotal match in their season.

They remain second from bottom in the final relegation spot in London Two North West with only Saturday's hosts Luton below them.

The gap above has grown too after Letchworth recorded a big win over Grasshoppers to move five points clear of their garden city rivals.

The game against Hemel, another side in and around the relegation zone, was a thrilling encounter.

Welwyn were first to score after 10 minutes. A great break by Liam Schofield allowed Phil Grehan to jink his way through the covering defenders and touch down under the posts. Chris Kemp added the conversion.

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The hosts were enjoying plenty of domination at the scrums but a tactical change brought on by their successes evened things up at the set-piece and it soon allowed Hemel to even the scores too.

A yellow card five minutes before the break gave Welwyn the momentum but after passing the opportunity of three easy points in favour of a scrum, Hemel averted the danger and rubbed salt into the wounds by capitalising on a missed tackle for a 14-7 half-time advantage.

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They still had a man advantage at the start of the second half and after a forceful chat from the coaching staff, they responded with two tries.

The first was a seven-point penalty score while the second saw Antonio Denton race over from 25 metres.

Once Hemel were restored to their full quota they came roaring back, Brent MacDougall handing off a couple of would-be tacklers to make it 21-19 to the away side.

And immediately from the restart it was Welwyn's turn to play 10 minutes with 14 men as Dan Meade arrived fractionally early to an aerial contest and saw yellow.

A long-range score on 63 minutes stretched Hemel into a 26-19 lead, the conversion coming back off a post, but once Meade had returned to the action, Yourgos Alexander profited round the blind-side to bring up Welwyn's bonus point score.

That made it a two-point game with 12 minutes left but Hemel finished the stronger and another hand-off and missed tackle saw them wrap up the game with a try close to the posts.

The successful conversion denied Welwyn a second bonus point.

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