London Welsh 6 – 20 Rosslyn Park
A bright sunny day at ODP, with the crowd in shirt sleeves and the sun glinting off my mate’s pint of Guinness. Perfect for running rugby.
Park started brightly. As expected, they were well organised and kept Welsh pinned back in our own 22 for much of the first 20 minutes. Despite Park running through phases up and getting close to our line several times, Welsh defence held up well and won some crucial turnovers/penalties to alleviate the pressure.
The score was still deadlocked at 0-0 on 25 minutes, at which point the Welsh defence made their first error, ceding a penalty right in front of the posts. 0 -3 to Park. Less than 5 minutes later, Park were again camped in our 22 and Welsh were penalised again. Park took a tap penalty and scored a try. Conversion missed, 0-8.
The try seemed to spur Welsh on and from the restart we moved through 3 or 4 phases into Park’s 22. A try seemed inevitable with Welsh pressuring the line through pick and go and the ref playing advantage. However, when we did cross the line, the try wasn’t grounded and the advantage waived, the ref opting to blow up for half time. Welsh were unlucky not to get at least 3 points from our first sustained spell of pressure. 0-8 at half time.
Early in the second half Rosslyn Park exploited narrow Welsh defending, getting quick ball out to the wing for a straightforward run in. The conversion was again missed, making the score 0-13.
Welsh needed some points on the board, and they finally arrived after some strong carries from the forwards deep into Park’s half, winning a penalty in front of the posts that Tom Howlett slotted to make it 3-13.
Early in the second half there was a clear shift in momentum towards Welsh. Park began to wilt slightly under Welsh physicality, and we began to play with more confidence. The Welsh midfield, which had threatened in the first half without fully breaking loose, began to look more assured. A chip ahead from Howlett turned the Park rush defence and we won a penalty at the ensuing breakdown and Park began to look a bit panicked. 6-13, and Park down to 14 after a yellow.
It felt like Welsh sensed gaining the upper hand for the first time in the match and were sniffing a comeback. A lovely flowing move took us nearly the whole length of the pitch would have been a sensational try, had the final pass gone to hand rather than been knocked on.
Park were under the cosh, but Welsh put some pressure on themselves after again failing to clear a high ball – the Park openside had chased kicks well all afternoon – and from the ensuing line out Park crashed over for a try very much against the run of play. Park converted a tricky kick from the touchline to make it 6-20.
The story of the final quarter was solid pressure from Welsh, without clean enough execution to translate it into points. Park’s discipline deteriorated as they got pinned back and they saw more yellow as a result, but Welsh failed to make their impressive advantage count. Fin Lowry finally crossed for a deserved try, but the unsighted ref couldn’t award it. This summed up Welsh’s morning. A final score of 6-20 probably didn’t reflect Welsh dominance in the second half. But overall, Park were smarter, more cohesive and made fewer errors