Welwyn sneak narrow win in a predictably unpredictable derby with Datchworth

Welwyn and Datchworth played out yet another combatative and tight derby match. Picture: KARYN HADDO

Welwyn and Datchworth played out yet another combatative and tight derby match. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

Once again league positions and form guides were proven to be completely useless when it comes to local derbies as Welwyn just edged a tense and tight affair at Datchworth 21-15.

The two teams had gone into the game at opposite ends of the London North West Three table; Welwyn sitting third having won the four previous games while Datchworth were second from bottom and without a win in their last five outings.

But this game was as fiercely contested as ever, with a solitary try after the interval just getting Welwyn’s noses in front.

The star of the show for the visitors was No.8 Ollie Di-Lieto, who started the game in place of the absent Dan Webb and scored all three of Welwyn’s tries.

All three were converted by Rory Harcourt.

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Datchworth made the high-flyers work extremely hard though and it was the team in green who led at half-time.

Welwyn drew first blood after 15 minutes.

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A clean break by Chris Sloan set up a good field position and the ball was kicked into space behind the Datchworth defence.

From there Di-Lieto pounced on the loose ball to score, Harcourt adding the conversion for 7-0.

But Datchworth responded well and had narrowed the gap five minutes later after a good carry by John Scarratt gave Richard Mills the chance for three points.

All this came with Datchworth’s Rob Lindsey sitting out for 10 minutes for an over-zealous tackle. But once he returned the hosts took the lead.

Another crossfield kick found Mills tussling with a defender and although it looked like he had knocked-on, the referee awarded the try and he added the extras as well.

And just before half-time yet another punt across field brought a try, Tom Bennett getting on the end of Sam Brunton’s knock.

A 15-7 lead at the break would have delighted Datchworth but Welwyn responded immediately, Di-Lieto getting on the end of fine phase play with Harcourt narrowing the gap to one.

The clinching try came moments after the restart.

Yourgos Alexander took a trademark quick-tap penalty and kicked into space where Di-Lieto reacted the quickest, collecting the ball and charging into the corner.

Neither team moved position but Welwyn are now just two points behind both Grasshoppers and Verulamians and will look to continue their momentum after the Christmas break when St Albans visit Hobbs Way on January 6.

For Datchworth, who resume at relegation rivals Finchley, this was a good performance that not only gave them a bonus point but more importantly showed they can still compete with the best sides in the league.

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