Old Merchant Taylors 27-20 Welwyn
Welwyn will be disappointed to have missed out on a win in the opening league game of the season, having led 5-20 with twenty minutes to play, but OMT fielded a strong set of backs including several 7s specialists who were totally dominant in the last period of the match. Fijian right wing Kandola in particular tested Welwyn’s defence throughout and it was a thrilling contest to watch.
A bright and breezy day and a beautiful playing surface suited both sides whose instinct is to move the ball around. OMT started by far the stronger with their scrum being dominant in the early stages of the game. They were rewarded with a try for their right wing after seven minutes. Welwyn’s scrum improved and they managed to get a foothold in the match. After fifteen minutes, a strong run by No 8 Dave Wells created a good opportunity which fly half Callum Tormey took to score out wide. On the half hour, Phil Grehan converted a penalty to give Welwyn the lead at 5-8. Welwyn’s coaching team began to ring the changes and Ben Hunter and Rob Picken replaced Brad Lack and Ash Dobney respectively. Welwyn missed a couple of first half penalty opportunities but on the stroke of half time a solid scrum allowed Harry Gillespie to make a clean break and Dave Wells was on hand to score close to the posts. Grehan converted to leave the half time score at 5-15 to the visitors.
Welwyn started the second half strongly and after eight minutes Dave Wells scored again to increase the lead to 5-20. Welwyn made further changes with Ben Osgood replacing Tormey at fly half and Dave Francis being replaced by the returning Dobney with twenty minutes to play. In the last twenty minutes of the match, OMT suddenly got into their rhythm and Welwyn were faced with wave after wave of running back play. Second row Sinderberry was on the end of one such move to score under the posts to narrow the gap to 12-20. Five minutes later, a mismatch out wide allowed winger Kandola to score in the corner and he repeated the trick only a minute later after a fabulous length of the field move involving excellent support play and one-handed offloads in true 7s style. OMT scored again just before the end to extend their lead to 27-20 and although Welwyn finished the match strongly, they came away with just a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
Welwyn host local rivals Datchworth at home on Saturday in a 15.00 kick-off.
Updated 17:53 - 11 Sep 2017 by Mark Elliott