Promotion hopes left bruised as Welwyn beaten at rivals Finchley

Yourgos Alexander was involved in Welwyn's solitary try at Finchley.

Yourgos Alexander was involved in Welwyn's solitary try at Finchley. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

Welwyn Rugby Club's hopes of promotion took a knock as they fell to defeat away to one of their rivals.

Finchley started the day one point ahead of their visitors and the 17-5 success at Summers Lane lifted them top of London Three North West, dropping Welwyn down to fourth in the process.

But the competition for the top two remains a fascinating battle with six sides separated by just eight points, and sixth-placed Hitchin holding a game in hand on the five above them.

The rain that had plagued the area over the course of Saturday morning had mercifully stopped just as the game kicked off, but the pitch was still sodden with some patches of standing water.

Despite missing skipper Josh Milton, Welwyn started strongly but were unable to turn their pressure into points.

Finchley then dominated the match for half an hour, scoring three tries and taking what turned out to be a match winning 17-0 lead.

In response, Welwyn emptied their bench with Phil Grehan, Will Freeston and Hamish Stewart all bringing fresh legs to the match after 25 minutes.

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The remaining 15 minutes of the first half were scoreless, but Grehan’s immediate influence on the match gave the travelling supporters some hope for the second period.

To Welwyn’s credit, they managed to outscore Finchley after the interval, breaching a defence that is one of the home team’s strong points.

The unfortunate fact from a Welwyn point of view though was despite a largely dominant performance, they only had one unconverted try to show for their efforts when the final whistle was blown.

The try came after 65 minutes as scrum-half Yourgos Alexander took a quick-tap penalty and released Grehan who dived over for a well-deserved try.

Finchley and second-placed Hendon hold a five-point lead over Welwyn with St Albans now third on points difference from the Hobbs Way-based club.

Cheshunt sit fifth, a further point behind while Hitchin are three behind Welwyn but with that game extra to play.

Welwyn host Finsbury Park on Saturday.

Datchworth meanwhile suffered a 33-8 loss at Ruislip in London Two North West but remain one place and five points ahead of the bottom two, Hackney and Hampstead.

And it is the latter that travel to the Green on Saturday for a potentially crucial clash.

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