1st XV win physical encounter against tough Stevenage
Welsh dominate for win but Stevenage defence limits chances.
Stevenage travelled to Old Deer Park as the only team to have beaten London Welsh this season and put in a huge physical effort to make it a tough afternoon for the league leaders.
A knock on from their own kick off put pressure on the visiting team from the start and London Welsh cleared downfield, forcing Stevenage to lose control of the ball again in the middle of the pitch and then earning a penalty from the resulting scrum. Jonathan Williams kicked to the corner and the lineout provided the first scoring opportunity of the game but Zac Stride was held up over the line.
Errors and penalties dominated the game and Stevenage’s strong defence made any break through difficult. David Gabe had the next chance when he found space through the centre but the ball was lost in the tackle and handed over possession. Welsh were immediately on the attack again thanks to an excellent run by Rhys Howells and this time a forward pass brought the move to an end a few metres from the try line.
The Welsh pressure was unrelenting and met a solid defence every time. The first quarter of the game was almost complete, and Stevenage hadn’t left their own half during that time, when David Gabe scored the first try. A solid drive by the pack set the ball up for Zac Stride to pass to Rhodri Dawes. Christopher Lilly stepped in from his wing to move the ball out to David Gabe who crossed the line. The conversion went wide of the posts.
Stevenage’s first visit into the Welsh half gave them a penalty kick at goal but the chance to narrow the gap was missed. Welsh soon regained possession and territory with Rhys Howells looking to have added the second try but the referee calling play back for a knock on. Two further opportunities went begging before half time, Christopher Lilly slipping just before the line and then Jonathan Williams stopped just short.
Half time: London Welsh 5 Stevenage 0
London Welsh started the second half where they left off but their dominance was still countered by Stevenage’s defensive wall. The visitors finally made a break of their own but Rhodri Dawes just got his finger tips to the Stevenage centre to haul him down.
A Welsh turnover created the second score of the game and when Stevenage were penalised, and reduced to 14 players through a yellow card, Jonathan Williams stepped up to collect the three points.
Another break by Rhys Howells was brought to an end by yet another penalty but the centre was more successful with his next attack making it to the 22 where a pass released Christopher Lilly to score in the corner. With one hour on the clock London Welsh had taken a 13-0 lead.
Welsh remained in the search for the two more tries needed for the bonus point with Andrew Black, Michael Griffiths coming close and Rhodri Dawes launching an attack from half way but none of them could find a way to through to the line.
Full time: London Welsh 13 Stevenage 0
London Welsh remain top of London 3 North West, nine points clear of Datchworth. Stevenage are a further five points behind and have a one point advantage over 4th placed Old Streetonians.
The first XV travel to Finchley on Saturday 2nd March for the next round of the league.