Well, the weather was the only winner for the Exiles on the road this week as they went down 41-0 in the Round 15 clash away at Havant.
As depicted in our match preview, Havant are a good side who sat 3rd in the table going into the clash and having only lost 3 games so far this term.
It was in torrential rain and howling winds that the Havant side were indeed to prove a substantial challenge for an under cooked Welsh side.
Bereft of a host of regulars Welsh valiantly battled against the conditions and a very strong home team. Welsh were hampered further prior to kick of an aussie back row star Rohan Pixley was relegated to the Druids 2nd XV, being unable to make the departure time for a trip to Havant – replaced by Tom Thorpe and Lewis Tucker added to the bench.
In encouraging news the backline was one of the strongest fielded this season, with returns for Tom Hunt and Sion Cowdy. It will be interesting to consider selection when Lima Sava, Ewan Gully and Rhys Howells return to fitness in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, the pack suffered from a number of changes and some new players being drafted in with little time to adjust to the step up from the Druids; in all there were 6 players missing from the pack for this clash.
The match started with Havant on the attack and with a buoyed home support they made the 16th man count after only 6 minutes. It would prove a theme throughout the afternoon- Havant penalty, precision kicking and a driving maul for the try. This was a potent weapon that Havant used to its fullest. The conversion was missed and Havant led 5-0.
Welsh reaction was good to the early set back. There were periods of pressure in the first 20 minutes where Welsh could well have levelled the scores and with Adam Nixon proving troublesome for the home side at 9.
However, Havant tool their opportunities well and on 16 minutes as they ventured back into the Welsh 22 they opted for the points from a scrum penalty that stretched their lead to 8-0.
We were not to see another score until 30 minutes, the interim period being relatively even.
But it was the driving lineout maul in the Welsh 22 that brought Havants second try on 30 minutes. The extras being added for Havant to stretch their lead to 15-0. The score remained the same at the stroke of Half Time and with Welsh still hanging on to a game with ever worsening conditions and an increasingly dominant from 5 performance from the home side.
The pressure told in the second half with Havant scoring on 44 minutes and 53 minutes to stretch the lead to 27 – 0. Welsh were unlucky in the period playing against a much worsening wind. Havants 3rd try coming from Welsh being camped on the Havant line, losing the ball and Havant clearing from their own try line to the Welsh in goal area!
Further tries came for the hosts on 59 and 80th minutes (both from the catch and drive) for a 6 try hall and a dominant final score of 41-0.
Welsh showed great heart in this game in awful conditions. However, the home side were far the better on the day and credit to Havant they looked the part to push the top two sides in the league all the way.
Welsh will regroup this week and reflect on a bad day at the office. There are a number of bonuses this week as the squad will see the returns of: Rhys Howells, Ewan Gully, Sam Johnson, Ben Bodinham, Rohan Pixley, Jack Burnett (missing for over 3 months) and Rhydian George.
Having found their feet in Rounds 10-12 Welsh now need to recapture their form for the critical visit of Sutton & Epsom to Old Deer Park this coming weekend, followed by fixtures with Banbury and Brighton in the coming business end weeks of the season.
Welsh Player of the Match: Adam Nixon