London Welsh vs Weybridge Vandals
By Gareth Vaughan Jones
Could it be Magic from the Vandals
Reports on twitter of a large group of 15 year old Vandals heading east up the A316 brought panic to the streets of Richmond early on Sunday morning. Calm was restored once it was apparent that Old Deer Park was their destination for an 11.30am rugby encounter with London Welsh.
With the conditions dry and the occasional glint of mid-winter sunshine reflecting pleasantly off the freshly gilded Pagoda, hopes were high among the decently sized crowd (Official attendance 57) for an exciting game of rugby.
The game kicked off bang on time at a quarter to 12 with a shrill blast from our very own Gareth Vaughan Jones.
Welsh made a strong start, dominating the early encounters and were camped in the Vandals half for the first 5 minutes. Baxter and Bruno combined well on the left wing but with the try line begging the final pass did not go to hand.
Somewhat against the run of play, the Vandals made use of an early penalty with a soccer style “wall” to conceal the direction of travel of the ball carrier. Tackles were missed and a strong Vandals break got them over the line for the first score.
Take That were a very popular “Boy Band” in the 1990s with a mostly female following whose fans’ shrieks and screams inflicted hearing loss on many a concert-goer. After this initial try, there were some in the home support who wondered whether their hearing might be similarly impaired were they to stray too close to our guests in the crowd who were doing a passable impression of the front row of a Take That concert circa 1995.
The conversion was missed but this did little to quell the excitement among the visiting hordes who then decided to re-enact the penalty move by forming a “wall” of their own and were to remain standing for the rest of the match despite the plentiful seats in our spacious stand.
The score acted to Relight the Fire breathing Dragons who continued to take the game to the visitors. A kick ahead by the Vandals was beautifully regathered but our eagle-eyed match official had spotted that the chaser had lacked Patience and was penalised for being in-front.
The kick to touch put the Welsh within striking distance and after a clean take by James the lads opted to maul and were driving strongly when Glyn saw his chance, peeled off and acrobatically touched down. There seemed some momentary hesitation among the officials as to the grounding but the try was awarded to be greeted by warm applause more akin to a rugby match.
With 5 minutes to go to the half time Orange Lucozade, Zack darted forward and without any other available options, kicked ahead into open space, the Vandals defence had plentiful pace but thanks to a fortunate bounce Zack regathered, a score looked possible but the Vandals regrouped and earned a penalty to relieve the pressure. Welsh continued with strong play, ball in hand but were unfortunate to concede yet again from a well worked penalty restart from deep inside the Vandals half. This time the extras were added and the interval scoreline of 5-12 looked a little harsh on Welsh’s efforts.
Welsh got the second half underway and were very quickly deep in Weybridge territory. Bruno attempted his own kick ahead which so nearly paid off. A scrum restart shortly followed and with barely 3 minutes gone Welsh were very much back in contention following yet another Glyn try this time off the back of the scrum. The conversion out wide was missed. The scoreline of 10-12 gave Welsh hope but the Vandals started to bring a more physical edge to their play and two rapid-fire tries took the game away from Welsh at 10-26.
But the Welsh were never going to go down without putting up a fight and Joel, who was having a characteristically strong game, scored a solo try to bring the Welsh back into contention at 15-26. But this wasn’t to be the Greatest Day for the Welsh as the Vandals closed the game out adding two further scores to take the spoils 15-36.
Report: Neil Wharton
Photos: Gail Fogarty