London Welsh Dragons vs Wasps
By Gareth Vaughan Jones
No sting in the tail for Welsh as they run out winners in this epic encounter!
Old Deer Park (ODP)
KO – 11.30 am
Weather- A drizzly windy March day
Apologies for the tardiness of this report for post match I was sickened by something and took to my bed.
During the pre-match warmup you could see how the dragons intended to play this match, with ferocity and
Speed into the ruck was the drill practised over and over again almost to the point of the ref having to
crowbar the Dragons from their training pitch for the battle to commence.
I'm not sure what they are feeding the youth of Acton nowadays but to say there were some big lads on the
Wasps team is a slight understatement.
Without further ado the contest got underway.
Welsh kick off with a great chase causing a knock on by Wasps leading to the first set piece contest. It was
obvious from the off that the Wasps scrum was strong and an early warning ensued for early pushing.
After only 8 minutes both sets of spectators and coaches were in awe of what they were witnessing, a
battle like no other. We were all exhausting watching and we were only doing just that , it was hard to believe
that the half time whistle was not about to blow.
A run of penalties ensued for hands in the ruck and the like as frustration started to show.
Alfie Thompson of Welsh managed to break the line and made a good 15 metres before the same intensity
of rucking found a new home 15 metres out from the Wasps line only for the Wasps boys to win the ball
back and stabilise. Then a great turnover by Ned Thomas this toing and froing being symbolic of the battle
that we all had the pleasure to witness.
The deadlock was broken by a calculated kick through by Osian of the LW Dragons putting I believe Rowan
in to score. After an incredibly ferocious start it was 5 - 0 to LW
After a further run of penalties Wasps recomposed themselves with a great run by their player Lucas
culminating in levelling the score.
Level it was not to be for long, with a beautiful reverse pass off the back of a strong Wasps scrum by their
No.8, Ollie Shaw No. 22, broke tackle taking Wasps into the lead.
The Welsh spirit was not crushed however with a penalty following the next scrum the scores were levelled
as the players headed to the half time huddle: LW - 10 Wasps - 10
Wasps kicked off the second half and the contest continued with the changing of ends seemingly
symbolically pointless given the ‘wafferʼ thin separation of the teams.
The stalemate was broken however by a London Welsh kick through that didnʼt work quite as well as the
first half equaliser with a pick up by the Wasps no. 13 who ran through at spead to break the line and put
Wasps ahead 10 - 15.
Are Welsh broken we hear the crowd ask ?
Off the Welsh restart Wasps touch the ball before it bobbles into touch. Welsh capatalise scoring off a quick
restart answering the doubting Thomasʼ in the best way possible with the score now standing at 15 - 15.
Various penalties ensue as the intensity remains, culminating in a knock on by Welsh.
Wasps no. 8 breaks line - fends and scores bringing the score to 15 - 20.
As the Wasps No.8 once again breaks the line an audible sigh of relief can be heard as a superbly timed andpositioned low tackle from Rhys McCarthy brings the previous try scorer to ground.
After another great period of turn overs and intensity the scores are levelled 20 - 20 by Maxim with 14
minutes left to play.
With 8 minutes to go Kalan of London Welsh has to go off injured. Wasps demonstrate one of the true core
values of Rugby and agree to drop their side down to 12 players to match Welsh who have no substistutes
Osian sees an opportunity and kicks though again to break the strong Wasps defensive line. The high ball
heads for the arms of the great Wasps no.13. Whether Osian has been studying the wind patterns of ODP
since birth has yet to be established but the ball changes course as if being kissed by the LW legends of the
past, this in conjunction with a great chase down is enough for Shay Dunne to bring the score to 25 - 20
with 6 minutes left to play.
To much applause Kalan returns to the field and the sides both return to 13 players.
With everything to play for the intensity does not ease off with a Welsh knock on leading to Wasps scrum 8
metres out from the Welsh line with a strong push leading to retained possession. Wasps come back strong
to try and level or even steel the match but Welsh dig deep culminating in a penalty to Welsh on the stroke
of Full Time that is kicked to touch.
Either side could have won this match having played with great guts and determination. In the end it was
Welsh who won 25 - 20 but I wish to thank every single player of both teams for entertaining us to such a
degree. It was a great battle to witness and in the words of Matt the referee: ‘it was a very enjoyable game
to ref with both teams demonstrating great spiritʼ.
At the end of the day in the words of Damian McCarthy the Dragons head coach: “ it was the ferocity and
intensity in the rucks that separated the teams”.
I may of been sickened by some fish post match but I was certainly not sickened by this magnificent display
of rugby by both sides. Well played all.
Report Author:Andy Thomas