1st XV promoted with win against Bank
By The Official London Welsh
Five tries ensure top two finish with three fixtures remaining
The mini Beast from the East may have brought an unseasonal smattering of snow to ODP but it did little to cool expectations ahead of the top of the table match against Bank of England, with a win enough to secure promotion.
London Welsh showed their intent from the outset and pressure applied the first scrum, earned a free kick and then a series of penalties as Bank repeatedly infringed in the opening minutes. Another attacking scrum on the 5m line created the platform for the first try as team captain Lloyd Davies crashed through the Bank defence to score. Rhys Tudur Davies' conversion was successful to give the home team a 7-0 lead after 7 minutes.
By the end of the first quarter the snow had started to fall again and Bank still hadn't left their own half. A yellow card for their inside centre added to their problems and Welsh extended their lead to 10 points with a Rhys Tudur Davies penalty.
A ruck inside Bank's 22 set up the second try of the afternoon. With Elis Staines at the bottom of the heap, Cai Griffiths stepped into the scrum half role and put the ball out towards the wing. One further pass gave Wil Davies just enough space top step through the last ditch tackles and score in the corner. Rhys Tudur Davies' conversion drifted wide but Welsh were already firmly in control of the game.
Back to full strength, Bank put together their first attack of the game and in doing so became the first team to score points against Welsh in five and a hours of rugby. The try in the corner couldn't be converted. 30 mins played and the home team led 15-5.
Elis Staines added try number three. An unstoppable forward drive towards the try line fed the ball back to the scrum half for his twelfth of the season. The conversion was off target but Welsh were again 15 points ahead. In the final moments of the half London Welsh conceded their first penalty of the game but wasted the opportunity when they were penalised and picked up their second yellow card - this time the openside flanker getting 10 minutes on the sideline.
Half time: London Welsh 20 Bank of England 5
The cold wind and falling snow made handling difficult and Welsh errors thwarted their ambitions in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The chase for the bonus point try distracted from the normal controlled game and Bank had stepped up the pressure. The visitors forced a turnover and quick, accurate passes created their second try, again in the corner and beyond the range of their kicker.
A second yellow card for Bank's number 7 earned him a red card and his team one player down for the final 10 minutes. Welsh made the most of the extra man and Gareth Morgan's pick-up from the back of the scrum is fed on to Elis Staines for the bonus point score. The conversion drifted away from the uprights and Welsh led 25-10.
Both teams played to the end and added another try each. A deft kick through Bank's defence by Lloyd Davies got the backline moving with Rhys Howells receiving the final pass for his team's fifth try. Bank had the last say with a solo effort by their left wing. His pace cut through the Welsh tackles to run in for five more points.
Full time: London Welsh 30 Bank of England 10
Man of the Match sponsored by Penderyn Whiskey was scrum half Elis Staines.
The bonus point win ensured promotion from Herts/Middx 1 and one further victory will guarantee top spot. Next Saturday the 1st XV are at home to Actonians. 3pm ko.