London Welsh’s unbeaten home record continued with a 38-26 victory against Horsham, in an exciting affair at Old Deer Park.
With four solid weeks of back to back and potentially title deciding matches ahead, Welsh took the bold step of resting no less than 7 players for the first home league fixture of 2022: Player of the Month Andy Black, star performer Rohan Pixley, Matt Pollen, Louie Groark, Will Ponty, Ben West and Jack Anderson all.watched this one from the sidelines. In addition, the game too early for hooker Jack Burnett to return from injury. However, this did provide an opportunity for Club Captain Chris Lilly to make his first start for almost 2 years as he returns from his hamstring injury. Griff Whitson also returned for his first game of 2022, along with Club stalwart Tom Baldwin who impressed for the Druids last weekend. With the strength in depth of the Welsh Squad set to be tested to the full this made for a tantalising fixture.
From the get go, Welsh began the game with a series of good chances, which unfortunately led to nothing. Plenty of endeavour but the final pass too often going to ground.
In the twelfth minute, Welsh took advantage of the early pressure with a try from Griff Whitson. Around the half way line, the Exiles were awarded a penalty, and kicked for touch. From the set piece, Welsh set up a maul, and drove towards the try line. The maul ended up stopping just short of the line, and the attackers were forced to pick and go. After a few quick phases, the ball was laid off to prop Whitson, who crashed over the line. A Lloyd Davies conversion made the score 7-0.
Five minutes later, Horsham were down to fourteen men, after the visitors’ Number eight was sin binned for a deliberate knock on as Welsh looked to bag their second try.
Making the most of their one man advantage, Welsh got another try just five minutes later through scrum half, Adam Nixon. The home side won a penalty from a scrum, which had been dominant throughout the match. Reacting quickly, Nixon tapped the penalty and sprinted towards the line. Weaving in and out of defenders, he would’ve had a walk in try but for a last ditch tackle from the Horsham winger; he scrum half’s momentum was enough to see him over the line. Davies’ conversion made it 14-0.
Howecer, the visitors responded with an impressive spell for the remainder of the half. Horsham grabbed two tries of their own in quick succession to make the score 14-14 with five minutes to go until half time. Both tries coming off the back of two mistakes from the home side. The second of their tries proved how dangerous Horsham were in broken play and that they indeed possessed some dangerous runners out wide.
On the brink of half time, London Welsh scored their third try of the afternoon through club captain, Chris Lilly. This was Chris’s first start since returning from injury last weekend. A line out and maul pushed Welsh deep into Horsham’s twenty-two. After a few phases, which led to nothing, the ball is quickly recycled, and laid off to the centre, who’s dynamic running took him past two defenders, with a further two being carried over with him as he scored under the posts. Davies’ conversion gave the Exiles a slender first half lead of 21-14.
London Welsh’s first half was relatively lack lustre, despite the three tries. The Welsh faithful in the 500 strong crowd were left wondering why so many of their regular side were on the sidelines watching the match with them. However, Horsham had certainly turned up to play and were proving a very real threat. A determined pack and talented back line had put them right into this game at half time.
Three minutes after the break, Welsh scored their bonus point try through Whitson, who scored his second of the afternoon. Again, after winning a penalty, the home side chose to go for touch, and set up a maul. Much like the first and third tries, the maul made its way slowly but surely towards the try line. From there, the prop broke away and scored in the corner. A missed conversion made the score 26-14.
Three minutes later, Horsham were again down to fourteen men after the number five was sin binned for talking back to the referee.
Regardless of the sin bin, Horsham took advantage of their one man disadvantage, with their third try of the afternoon thanks in part, to some poor defending from the home side. An added conversion made the score 26-21.
Welsh reacted with a fifth try of the match through Jacob Butler. After winning a penalty on the half way line, Man of the Match, Adam Nixon, quickly tapped and Welsh countered. The ball was spread out wide to Tom Hunt who’s pace and power took him past 3 players has he galloped 40 metres to almost go over himself. However, unselfishly and with a two on one, Hunt laid the ball off to Jacob Butler who scored in the corner. A missed conversion made the score 31-21.
Immediately after the try was scored, Horsham were, again, down to fourteen men, after their scrum half was sin binned for a high tackle in the act of trying to prevent the previous score.
Welsh’s pressure in the second half continued, especially with Horsham being down to fourteen men. Jacob Butler had another opportunity to score a second try in the corner, but for a great tackle from the defending winger to force him into touch.
Three minutes before full time, London Welsh scored their sixth, and final try of the afternoon. Deep into the opposition twenty two, a great delayed pass from Nixon off the base of the maul found Tom Baldwin who broke the defending line and then laid off to 6’8 second row Ed Couzens who scored under the posts. The added conversion made it 38-21.
Horsham were still not done though! On the brink of full time, they scored their own bonus point try of the afternoon, thanks to some great pressure, which proved too much for the Exiles who were well aware that they had been in a game! Despite some resolute defence, the well organised Horsham pack managed 7 phases of close up hit and recyle and finally got they deserved losing bonus point score for their 4th try. The missed conversion made the final score, 38-26.
This proved a very strong test for the Performance Squad. Despite the fact that half of the team had been rotated ahead of a big month of matches. The players that came in included many returning from injury and some star performers in recent weeks from the Druids 2nd XV. The experiment if anything proved the strength of the squad and competition for places will no doubt be hotter than ever.
A mention for Horsham though who were superb in this match. They showed great skill, resolve and attacking endeavour that in honesty did not reflect their place in the league. London 1 is a very strong league and this Round 16 match goes to show that there are no easy games. Horsham showed intent to play a running style of rugby that provedna real spectacle for the crowd and we wish them all the best for the remainder of the season.
London Welsh Man of the Match went to Welsh number 9 Adam Nixon who showed all of his national league experience in controlling what was a tough game. Adam will enjoy his bottle of Penderyn from MoM sponsors Penderyn Distillery.
Welsh look forward to a tough test on the road next week in Round 17 away at Cobham RFC.
Tries: Griff Whitson x 2, Jacob Butler, Chris Lilly, Ed Couzens and Adam Nixon.
Conversions: Lloyd Davies x 4
The thirteenth games of the season didn’t bring bad luck for London Welsh or Horsham, our visitors this Saturday. Welsh finished 33-10 ahead at London Cornish thanks to an impressive second half performance after the first half rain proved a great leveller whilst Horsham won 36-12 against Battersea Ironsides.
The bonus point win for Welsh came via team captain James Buncle’s brace of tries, Adam Nixon and Tim Ross each scoring their second try of the season and Ed Couzens adding his name to the scorecard for the first time since joining London Welsh from Llanelli in the Welsh Premiership. Lloyd Davies added four conversions.
Horsham also claimed a bonus point in their first game of the year running in five tries and topping these up with four conversions and a penalty. This was their fourth win of the season and their second in a row as it followed a pre-Christmas victory over Farnham. The previous successes had been in October against the bottom two teams in the league. A 7-24 scoreline at London Cornish was followed by 11-15 at London Irish and Horsham’s fortunes continued when the third match in the run gave a 32-32 draw at home to Cobham.
In previous seasons Horsham’s current tenth place would have had them looking nervously at the teams below and the threat of dropping into the relegation zone but that worry doesn’t exist this campaign. Twelve points cover 5th to 10th in the league and a mid-table finish remains within Horsham’s sights.
Horsham gave London Welsh a tough test in the away leg of this fixture. Welsh led 12-6 at half time with tries by Peschisolido and Ridler plus a conversion by McAvoy sandwiched by two successful penalty kicks for Horsham. Butler’s first try of the season and another McAvoy conversion was enough to secure the win and although Welsh stopped the home team from scoring a try, Horsham’s four penalties were enough for a losing bonus point. The final score was 12-19 to London Welsh with Welsh prevented from attaining the Try bonus point.
Round 17 will be Horsham’s first ever visit at 1st XV level to the famous Old Deer Park.
Ireland U20s man (and Club Captain) Chris Lilly’s first appearance in a league fixture this season was one of several positives to be taken from the London Cornish game. The strength of the London Welsh pack was rightly highlighted by Cornish after the game and the list of try scorers more than reflected this. The second half performance saw an increased focus and determination from the team, no doubt spurred on by James Buncle’s very vocal half time rallying call and assisted by an improvement in the playing conditions.
Peschisolido still leads the list of try scorers with eight so far this season and Hunt remains on six, Buncle’s brace against Cornish moves him to five tries and into joint third with flyimg 6’5 winger Sion Cowdy. A total of 69 tries have been scored this season with just 27 conceded.
Kick off is at 2pm. Hot food will be available in the club house and the club bars (as always) will be open all afternoon and evening. Entry remains FREE, as has been the case since the start of Project Reset.
Welsh continue to welcome players back from injury with Round 17 seeing Sion Cowdy, Will Ponty, Matt Williams and Griff Whitson all return to the selection conundrum. Osian McAvoy and Jack Burnett also near a return. 50+ cap man a second row stalwart Tom Baldwin forces his way into contention after a man of the match performance as captain of the Druids 2nd XV last time out.
|January 15, 2022||2:00 pm||London 1 South||2021/22||80'|
|Old Deer Park|
|187 Kew Road, Richmond, TW9 2AZ|