1st XV open 2019 with home win over Tabard
Welsh stay top of league with sixth straight win
Over 600 supporters, 170 of whom had enjoyed the pre-match Patrons and Supporters lunch, watched the London Welsh 1st XV start 2019 with their tenth bonus point win of the season.
Welsh opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock. Tabard had put themselves under pressure when a kick to touch went straight out and Welsh were awarded a lineout just outside the 22. Play moved across field and then back again until Jonathan Williams received a pass from David Gabe and the fullback forced his way through Tabard’s defence to cross the line. Williams added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Tim Ross caught the ball from the restart and Welsh retained possession to immediately run in their second try. Rhys Howells made a break and, with Tabard’s attempts to tackle the centre unsuccessful, on the 22 he passed the ball out to Max Morgan to add another five points. The conversion went wide of the posts.
The match was still in the opening 15 minutes when David Gabe scored the third try. Good interlinking between Iwan Bowan-Rees and Ben Cullen created space for Jonathan Williams but the fullback was stopped just short of the line. Tabard conceded a penalty and Welsh opted for a scrum and a chance to continue the attack. From the scrum the ball was moved infield and Gabe’s pass to Andrew Black was quickly returned and the fly half touched down under the posts.
Tabard added their first points at the end of the first quarter. Pressure in the Welsh 22 earned them a scrum and, unable to make any headway against the Welsh pack, the ball was moved through the backs for fly half Jack Reilly to score.
The teams were evenly matched for the rest of the half but deep into stoppage time Tabard added one more try. A quick tap penalty by replacement forward Marcus Bunning set up a series of drives by Tabard’s pack and when space opened in the Welsh defence Bunning went through to make the half time score 19-10.
Welsh opened the second half brightly and an increase in the pace and intensity of play was rewarded with the bonus point try in the 50th minute of the game. Jonathan Williams made the initial break and his pass put Max Morgan in at the corner.
Tabard countered quickly when a perfectly weighted kick by their flyhalf was gathered by wing Tom King to run in their third and final try of the game.
London Welsh continued to struggle to turn their possession and territory in to points as Tabard’s strong defence forced errors and penalties. The loss of Iwan Bowen-Rees through injury didn’t help as Welsh were forced to move team captain Chris Lilly to cover at scrum half. With ten minutes left to play Welsh get back to Tabard’s try line but were unable to score. Tabard conceded a penalty and, with thoughts of pushing the lead to more than two scores, Welsh opted to kick at goal but the ball went wide of the posts.
Welsh battled hard in search of the fifth try and forwards and back worked well recycling the ball. A quick pass from the back of a ruck to David Gabe sent him through for his second of the game and Jonathan Williams’ conversion made the final score 31-15.
Next Saturday the 1st XV travel to Harrow RFC. Kick off is at 3pm.
London Welsh Penderyn Distillery Man of the Match: Max Morgan