This was an outstanding game played in a good spirit and was a credit to both sides. Neither club was prepared to settle for an easy end of season fixture and the game was in the balance right up to the final seconds. Welwyn should be proud of their efforts over the whole season, which were epitomised in their refusal to give up until the final whistle on Saturday.
With the wind and slope in their favour in the first half, Welwyn got off to a flying start. Centre Vitaea Kawea stepped through three attempted tackles to open the scoring after only 3 minutes. Kemp converted for the first of his 14 points from the tee during the afternoon. Unfortunately, stand-in skipper, Adam Harcourt, then suffered a back spasm and had to leave the field to be replaced by Liam Scofield with back row dynamo, Ollie Di Lieto, taking charge of the team in his absence. After 20 minutes, Hampstead narrowed the gap with an unconverted try. This spurred Welwyn back into action and from the kick-off, impressive flanker, Tom Emery, carried the ball well into contact and from the ensuing ruck, Kawea picked the ball up and headed straight for the line via another couple of excellent side steps.
Within a minute, Welwyn had their third try. James Tan made good ground and the ball went through Yourgos Alexander and Phil Grehan before Di Lieto raced clear to score. On 32 minutes, Welwyn scored again through winger Jack Lacey and although Hampstead responded with a try of their own, Welwyn led 10-26 at the break.
Alexander was yellow carded early in the second half for a dangerous tackle and Hampstead took full advantage. The home team’s mobile number 8 scored three tries in 10 minutes but Kemp added two penalties to keep Welwyn just ahead at 31-32. Hampstead were not yet done, however. Two further tries put them ahead at 43-32 with the match now seemingly beyond Welwyn’s reach. To their credit, though, Welwyn threw everything at Hampstead in the last 5 minutes and very nearly snatched an unlikely win. Two penalties in front of the posts were run and eventually Grehan eased through a gap to score under the posts. With seconds left on the clock there was time for one more Welwyn attack from the kick-off. Great continuity saw them get to within 10 metres of the Hampstead line but a knock on signalled the end of a pulsating match.
Welwyn took two bonus points from the game and finished the season in 6th place. Having been promoted last season, this was a creditable achievement and they will be looking to build on this when the new league campaign kicks off in September.